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After three years, Penetanguishene council on doorstep of definitive zoning bylaw

Affordable housing was key to short-term-rental component in final zoning bylaw review
Penetanguishene town hall at 10 Robert St. W. Staff photo/MidlandToday

After three years of drafts, edits and public input, Penetanguishene council and staff are ready to adopt new zoning bylaw rules and regulations next month.

Municipalities have three years to implement zoning bylaw (ZBL) conformity with the adoption of official plans (OP) under the Planning Act, which in the case of Penetanguishene occurred in June 2019.

With the objective of the ZBL to repeal and replace the existing ZBL, its additional intent was to update best practices and modern technology within zoning while also simplifying its ease of reference in plain language, and to address outstanding issues that emerged in recent years.

At a recent committee of the whole meeting, Penetanguishene council heard from Alison Luoma, senior planner for Meridian Planning Consultants, who noted that since the most recent input three topics kept returning to the forefront: short-term rentals (STR); shoreline structures; and county comments.

“In terms of STR, what the bylaw does is establish the very basic framework for STR in the town,” said Luoma, adding that ZBL would work in conjunction with municipal licensing bylaws. “The zoning really only addresses issues in terms of where STR are permitted.”

Places where a lot fronting onto open and municipally maintained roads are required for an STR to be permitted. As such, STR are proposed to be permitted in detached dwellings of the shoreline area and rural zones, and in dwelling units above ground-level commercial uses and in multiple dwellings in the downtown and waterfront zone.

“STR are not permitted as-of-right in a residential one (R1) or residential two (R2) zone. Any existing short-term rentals in these locations will be recognized as legal non-conforming,” stated Luoma.

“In terms of why we are not permitting STR in the R1 and R2 zone, I wanted to address that very specifically. But in particular, that is because of how STR relate to the housing supply within the town, and how those two things are actually interrelated, specifically within those R1 and R2 zones.”

Whereas a single detached dwelling could be used to support the housing supply for residential purposes with a contribution of between one to three affordable housing units, that same home used as an STR would be removing support and opportunity for affordable housing by one to three units.

Further discussion was raised through Coun. Brian Cummings who asked if the grandfathering of existing legal non-conforming use in R1 and R2 zones could be transferred, by purchase for example?

Luoma explained that as long as a grandfathered STR continues to exist and operates, it maintains that status. However, if stops being used for that particular purpose, it would lose its status.

Coun. George Vadeboncoeur remarked that the traditional role of a bed and breakfast was that an owner would be present and that guests would share a table to dine, noting his suggestion to the planning department that the installation of cooking facilities in individual units would not be permitted.

“There have been abuses, and I’ll use that term,” Vadeboncoeur stated, “where some owners have installed cooking facilities in the individual units; it then changes the character of the bed and breakfast.”

He continued to address the wording of the proposed bylaw to provide a “clear distinction” that the difference between a bed and breakfast and an STR is whether the owner is present and responsible.

“For some unscrupulous owners, they rent (while absent) and the people that attend are very disruptive,” explained Vadeboncoeur. “It’s that small group of people that has caused concern and has generated a lot of angst in the community about STR.”

Luoma added that bed and breakfasts do not remove from the housing supply, and are explicitly permitted as well.

For shoreline structures, several ZBL approaches were addressed. All accessory buildings and structures must be set back 15 metres from the 100-year-flood high-water mark.

Some water-related accessory shoreline structures may be allowed closer if they require direct access to water as an operational necessity. These include boathouses, ports, lifts and launch ramps, but not saunas or hot tubs.

One dock not used for commercial purposes may be permitted on a lot, if it doesn’t extend more than 30 metres. The maximum cumulative width of all permitted water-related accessory is not to exceed 25 per cent of the lot frontage.

The ZBL was simplified by applying town-wide standards to the accessory buildings and structures.

“How this translates in the shoreline area is that these shoreline structures must only be set back 1.2 metres from site lot lines, so that is a reduction,” added Luoma.

As per the County of Simcoe, comments included a request to insert a zone provision in accordance with county bylaw requiring a setback from County Road 93, as well as the addition of a waste disposal influence area holding zone.

“Essentially what that is,” explained Luoma, “is where there is either an active or a closed waste disposal site, that a 500-metre radius is drawn around that and within that no development may occur unless it can be demonstrated that there would be no adverse effects to persons as a result of those active or closed waste disposal sites.”

Any such development would conform to the OP for Penetanguishene, and the results of any required studies would also be implemented if within acceptable levels of accordance with the province and other agency requirements. 

After much discussion, council thanked Meridian for the thorough work accomplished throughout the years before sending the ZBL to be approved at the next meeting of regular council in May.

Further information can be found on the zoning bylaw review project page of the Connect Penetanguishene website.

The final comprehensive zoning bylaw report and council presentation can be located on the agenda page of the Town of Penetanguishene website.

Meetings of Penetanguishene council are held on the second Wednesday of each month, and can be watched live on Rogers TV cable 53, or on the Rogers TV website.

Archives of council meetings are located on the Town of Penetanguishene YouTube channel.

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Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Derek Howard covers Midland and Penetanguishene area civic issues under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada.
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