Reporter’s Notebook: Class C STA Disrupts Spry Shore Road Neighbourhood

By John Francis, Bruce Peninsula Press

MNBP Council’s May 27 Meeting began with a delegation from residents of Spry Shore Road, south of Stokes Bay. They were complaining about a large, Class C Short-Term Accommodation (STA) on Spry Shores Road. The delegation was supported by nine letters from other local residents.

They stated that Class C STAs are licenced for 12 people but this one was often advertised for more than 12 (“12 adults plus two children plus infants”) and was frequently observed to be occupied by more than 12. This is impossible to document because “Bylaw Enforcement doesn’t do 2:00AM bed checks.”

The delegation explained that it was a steep learning curve for the neighbours. Don’t expect immediate response from Bylaw Enforcement; they work limited hours. You need to call the OPP at 311 for disturbance complaints or 911 for fireworks complaints. They told of “lots of forms filled out to the municipality” but no feedback about the complaints. How many of those ever got registered as complaints against the Spry Shore Road property, they asked. 

One particular event had triggered the neighbourhood; as the delegation’s supporting material notes: “No By Law Officer was available May 9th 2024 when guests next door were absolutely out of control. We had to call the OPP and finally, by 3:45 a.m. all went quiet.”

In closing, they told Council that this STA should have been shut down a long time ago. Further, they stated that Class C STAs should not be allowed; the municipality should sunset the existing ones and should not permit new ones. Anywhere. Class C STAs are just unlicenced motels and should not be allowed.

The letters of support gave a comprehensive list of offending activities:

“1. Fires during fire ban.

2. Setting off fireworks without a permit.

3. Noise during the day from outside speakers. The STA has an outside hot tub, basketball court and a campfire pit where guests will play music. The sound carries through the neighbourhood because we are all on the waterfront.

4. Noise after 11:00 pm from the hot tub and campfire pit areas. Including loud foul language.

5. Garbage set out at the roadside in green garbage bags well before garbage day which was of course attacked by animals and birds and strewn all across the street. Remnants are still on the property across the road.

6. There is so much garbage from the large parties at the property, they had to hire a 3rd party disposal company and have them drop a dumpster bin. This is a clear signal that this property is more than just a residential STA and that more than 12 people are there at a time.

7. Nude sunbathing on the waterfront.

8. Renters wandering onto neighbouring waterfront property.

9. Renters exiting the property in their vehicle onto Spry Shore Road at a high speed without checking for traffic on the road.”

The letters of support explained what the locals had learned about dealing with the STA: “Of course, the first rule is don’t interact with the renters, because you have no idea who they are, their state of mind, or their level of sobriety, plus you open yourself and your property to retribution. This hardly makes for a warm and enjoyable community experience. We know now not to expect an immediate response from the Bylaw Enforcement Officer if there is a noise complaint after 11:00 pm, because he is off duty and the municipality’s 24/7 number is just a call service. You have to call the OPP at 311 to get an authority on site. If there is a campfire during fire ban, don’t call the Bylaw Enforcement Officer, call 911 for the fire department. If there is a trespassing issue, again call the OPP.”

The letters suggested that MNBP should implement a bylaw similar to the one currently being discussed by the Township of Muskoka Lakes, which states:

“No Person shall market, operate, or provide a Short Term Rental Accommodation for greater than:

(a) 50% of the total number of days within the time period of the Friday preceding the Victoria Day long weekend to the Friday preceding the Labour Day long weekend of each year; and

(b) 50% of the total number of days within the time period of the Friday preceding the Labour Day long weekend to the Friday preceding the Victoria Day long weekend of the following year.”

The letters point out that restricting STAs to renting 50% of the time prevents people from making a full-time business out of them. Instead, it encourages property owners to reconsider the business case for long-term rentals, which we desperately need.

The owner and property manager of the Spry Shore Road STA are registered to appear as a delegation at MNBP Council’s June 10, 2024 Meeting. They dispute many of the claims made at the May 27 Meeting.