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Penetanguishene STR group wants more public input

Creating short-term rental bylaw continues with upcoming public meeting; town hopes to craft zoning and licensing regulations by late spring
Town planner Owen Taylor presented a slide showing Penetanguishene downtown and waterfront zones proposed for short term rental usage under regulation bylaws for zoning and licensing. The image was one of several information components of a recent open house provided by the town to gain public assistance in drafting new bylaws for short term rentals.

Members of the public are invited to attend an upcoming public meeting to help construct Penetanguishene’s upcoming short-term rental regulation bylaws.

Penetanguishene is in the process of regulating STR accommodations through the drafting of licensing bylaws (LBL) and zoning bylaws (ZBL), expected to be implemented by late spring of 2022. A ZBL would regulate where STR may be permitted in town, while an LBL would regulate uses including guest quantity, parking, noise, stay duration and inspections.

The proposed STR definition for a new ZBL by staff reads: “A dwelling or dwelling unit, that in whole or in part, is rented or available for rent with the intention of financial compensation for an occupancy period of not more than 28 consecutive days but shall not include a bed and breakfast establishment, hotel, motel or any other use otherwise defined by this By-law.”

An open house for the LBL portion held earlier this week was hosted virtually by town planner Owen Taylor and attended by Penetanguishene CAO and staff.

During the event, Taylor noted that a recent search for STRs in Penetanguishene identified 78 short-term rentals across platforms AirBnb and VRBO.

“As of right now, the recommendation from the project team for the ZBL is to only allow them in the downtown and waterfront zone in the ZBL; that extends from Poyntz Street down Main Street to the waterfront, and along that Main Street corridor,” explained Taylor.

“Why is it that you only have a permit for the downtown core?” asked participant Denise Steeves. “What was that decision about?”

“The permit would apply to anywhere in town,” replied Taylor. “If you had a new STR and it wasn’t in the waterfront and downtown zones, you would have to make an application to council to allow for that use.

“That being said, it’s only in draft format right now and it’s still subject to change; there’s no decision on that front,” he continued. “So whether you operate a new AirBnb, whether you have an existing one – you’d need to obtain a new license no matter where you’re located in town."

Taylor explained that under non-conforming use provisions, a current STR could be “grandfathered-in” to operate outside the upcoming ZBL.

“However, those legal non-conforming uses are still required to obtain a license,” Taylor stated.

MidlandToday asked about the duration limits of ‘grandfathering-in’ current legal non-conforming STRs; Taylor replied that under the current ZBL, extensions would continue as long as use is happening on said property.

“As of right now, it is very broad in the ZBL in terms of when that use ends and how it would be carried over. But that’s something that staff are certainly going to look into, to provide some more clarity around that and not make it a grey area,” replied Taylor.

Other questions from the public varied from pricing costs to qualifications for licences, many of which were unable to be answered during the early consultation stage but were assured by Taylor to be accepted as part of the bylaw construction process.

A public meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. with the draft ZBL and LBL to be reviewed next month; full force and effect of the new bylaws is expected in either May or June of this year.

Penetanguishene deputy fire chief Pierre Genier additionally told MidlandToday that the challenge of obtaining accurate STR locations and owner information in the town was essential in having such buildings equipped with proper smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as well as other fire safety measures.

Further information on attending the meeting can be found on the short-term rental page of the Connect Penetanguishene website.

Council meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month throughout COVID-19 restrictions. 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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