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Penetanguishene waking up to noisy STRs

Mayor asking staff to look into short-term rentals after recent noise complaints in town
Penetanguishene Town Hall file photo. Mehreen Shahid/MidlandToday

If the STRs wanted to make some noise, they sure succeeded.

Council approved a referral for a staff report on the short-term rental (STR) issue, after becoming aware of resident complaints to their presence in town.

Mayor Doug Leroux brought the item to the forefront at a recent committee of the whole meeting.

“We had some discussion about this awhile back and it didn’t go anywhere, but I can assure you that in these last two weeks I’ve had so many complaints about some of these rentals,” stated Leroux, “so I would like to see it back on the referrals.”

Coun. Debbie Levy agreed wholeheartedly with the mayor’s proactive stance.

“Things have heated up,” said Levy. “We’re going to have to have a fulsome discussion on short-term rentals, and what we would like to see as our parameters.”

Timing for the report was suggested as late winter, to prepare possible enforcement for the spring and summer months of next year.

CAO Jeff Lees added that the timing of the referral was “opportunistic” in coinciding with the town’s reexamination of zoning bylaws.

“With respect to providing regulatory options and licensing options with respect to short term rentals,” Lees explained, “we could quite easily resurrect this conversation through the zoning bylaw in the coming months, and then ultimately report back to council through that process.”

Levy admitted that a conversation on short-term rentals would be lengthy and complex, and council passed the motion.

In speaking with MidlandToday after the meeting, Leroux shared that noise complaints on the STRs, which were brought to his attention, were then forwarded to the OPP, who handle enforcement after 11:00 p.m., at properties near the waterfront.

“I know it’s a problem in a lot of the municipalities now, not just Penetanguishene,” Leroux shared. “I know that Tiny, Tay, and Midland... they’re all having the same issue and problems.

“I don’t think that we’ve ever had this problem or issue before.”

Leroux noted that one main concern was in the terminology of differentiating between a traditional bed and breakfast in contrast to an STR.

“Normally, a BandB is a bed and breakfast where the owners actually live in the house and your clients come and they rent a room overnight. The Airbnbs, they’re the… short-term rentals rented out to a large group of people at a time,” said Leroux.

“I know in Wasaga Beach, they passed a bylaw that those Airbnbs, short-term rentals, are only allowed in commercial zones and not in residential zones -- what is zoned as an R1,” Leroux said.

“It’s creating issues and complaints by the neighbouring people who live in these R1-zoned areas of single-family dwellings when they’re putting up with a lot of noise and disturbance.”

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

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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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