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Penetanguishene resident frustrated by town's perceived lack of action on STRs

Mayor, planning director absences during short-term-rental discussion frustrate resident, who feels unheard
2020-04-01-Penetanguishene
Penetanguishene town hall at 10 Robert St. W. Staff photo/MidlandToday

Beck Boulevard resident Janine Jankowski contacted MidlandToday with concerns regarding short-term rentals in Penetanguishene, especially the ones near her home.

“I am a resident, and I’m a neighbour of a really disruptive short-term rental,” Jankowski shared by phone.

According to her, the neighbour lives in the Greater Toronto Area but has rented out the house through short-term rental (STR) businesses, such as Airbnb.

“I don’t want to get stuck on the fact that these are problematic, because I don’t care if a house of grandmas comes next door. It’s disruptive to me to have transient people come beside my home every single weekend, and I have to wonder what I’m getting next weekend and who.

"Do I call the bylaw? Do I call the cops? Airbnb? VRBO? My husband and I have been living with this for two years and I don’t want to complain about just problematic guests, because I don’t want any guests."

At the previous meeting of Penetanguishene council as STRs were discussed in a public meeting and in the committee of the whole, Mayor Doug Leroux was on vacation and unable to participate while planning director Andrea Betty is on leave from her position for private, undisclosed reasons, causing a shift in town workloads and delegations.

Jankowski felt that the voices of her and others fully against STRs in the town were left unheard.

“Why did me and my neighbours waste hours on putting our experiences together, at her (Betty’s) request?” asked Jankowski. “When she was putting together all this work for the first crappy presentation they did. I think they just reused the one they had had many years ago.”

In response to Jankowski’s questions, Penetanguishene communications and technology co-ordinator Sarah Marshall provided the following comment through email.

“We have been conducting public consultation regarding the licensing bylaw for STR in which a public meeting was held on March 9,” wrote Marshall. “Further to this opportunity, residents were able to share experiences and comments through an online survey, the online open houses (March 1 and 2) as well as verbal and written comments made to staff members, including director Betty.

“Staff are currently preparing the draft licensing bylaw to regulate short-term rentals, as directed by council at the March 9 meeting. A staff report which will include all comments received from members of the public throughout all consultation periods will be included at that time. This report will be presented at the April 13 committee of the whole meeting.”

One concern Jankowski held was about the cost to town residents every time a bylaw or OPP officer gets called out to deal with noise or garbage complaints from STR properties. She said that on one occasion, Leroux, who also lives nearby on Beck Boulevard, came to apologize to Jankowski for the disruption.

Wrote Marshall: “The financial cost per bylaw enforcement call is not available at this time. There will however be financial implications presented to committee of the whole on April 13 in the staff report. For the town’s OPP estimated costs for 2022, the annual billing statement can be found here as a public document.”

Further information on the STR process, including meeting agendas and documents, can be found on the Connect Penetanguishene website.

The STR public meeting presentation can be located on the agenda page of the Town of Penetanguishene website.

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