Residents remain on edge in anticipation of the summer short-term-rental season in Tiny Township, as newly implemented bylaws are thawing old concerns to spring fresh once more.
At a recent committee of the whole meeting, a deputation from a concerned group of short-term-rental (STR) owners was scheduled to be presented to council and staff; however, that was preceded by an odd instance within the council agenda format.
The way Tiny council agendas are organized, deputations are prioritized by open status – meaning unscheduled five-minute opportunities are provided to those wishing to speak openly to council and staff – followed by pre-scheduled deputations.
Germaine Mueller and Dan O’Rourke were two residents who saw a scheduled deputation by Glen Sloutsky representing the Responsible Hosts of Tiny on the agenda along with its presentation contents; that compelled them to each jump into an open deputation slot before Sloutsky could say his piece.
Mueller spoke to familiar issues for those against STRs, including noise, disruptions, disrespect, and non-sobriety. O’Rourke – who had been part of the township’s STR task force – asked questions in advance of Sloutsky regarding group licensing applications and opinions on rental occupancy quantities.
Once open deputations concluded, Sloutsky provided his deputation on behalf of the Responsible Hosts of Tiny – a group formed to protect historic use rights of its members – but first shared sympathy for Mueller and O’Rourke, as well as the new term of Tiny council for inheriting a “messy” situation in a polarized township.
Sloutsky’s request was for a pause to be put on enforcement of STR licensing within the township. His presentation questioned objectives and evidence for the bylaw creation, while stating that it was “a regime that attempts to do through licensing what it can’t legally do through zoning,” and showcasing Tiny’s selective ranking among nine other municipalities with STR regulations where it came out as the worst in almost every instance.
Regarding credentials, Sloutsky said: “My profession as a management consultant working for the last 20 years advising governments at all three levels on operation, organization, and policy matters. I’ve seen good policy, I’ve seen average policy; this is the worst piece of regulatory policy I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“It’s an enforcement problem; it’s not an STR or an AirBNB problem that we’re facing here,” said Sloutsky.
At the end of the meeting, Coun. Dave Brunelle followed up with a question to staff regarding the tracking of enforcement, and notification for those who submitted a complaint. CAO Robert Lamb responded that staff were proceeding with the bylaw, including laying charges against STR owners operating without a licence based on received complaints.
“Understanding this is a hot issue, we still have to be careful,” said Lamb. “We don’t want to create an environment that almost becomes a witch-hunt, where people are targeting STR operators; that’s one of the complaints that they’re having is that they’re afraid of people making non-stop complaints against them that aren’t valid, which will also take a lot of time of our bylaw enforcement, because we do have to investigate every complaint. It’s a balance of information.”
Chief municipal law enforcement officer Steve Harvey added that residents should view the short-term rental page on the municipal website for all matters about bylaws and regulations.
Council accepted all deputations as information to pass along to staff.
The presentation from the Responsible Hosts of Tiny, including slideshow data and questions, can be viewed within the agenda page located on the Tiny Township website.
Archives of council meetings are available to view on Tiny Township’s YouTube channel.