Since 2020, Bluewater Council has provided many resolutions about short term rentals in the municipality. Recently, staff and Council have been working together to draft a by-law to regulate short-term rentals. Staff and Council's goal in drafting the by-law is to create a policy that balances the economic benefits of short term rentals with the needs of the neighbourhoods where they exist.
Public consultation meetings
In 2022, the municipality received feedback on a draft licensing by-law from a 90-day public survey and a public meeting held in October. Staff received close to 800 responses from residents, the public and short term rental users. The presentation is available in the October 12, 2022, agenda package on our council portal.
Council received an update from staff on November 21, 2022. Council asked for a special meeting of Council for January 26, 2023, to review the updated draft short-term rental licensing by-law. An agenda with a link to watch the meeting will be posted in our council portal by the end of the day on Friday, January 20th. For those wishing to attend in person, the meeting will be held at Council Chambers at the Stanley Complex, 38594 Mill Road, Varna.
Highlights of the proposed by-law
The purpose of the proposed by-law is to ensure safety of all parties in and around all properties. It is designed to have certain items in mind for protection of renters and neighbours. Some items to be included in the by-law are:
- A parking management plan to ensure that people do not park on streets outside of permitted areas and to prohibit parking on private lots where damage to septic systems could happen.
- A maximum occupancy limit that reflects a maximum number of people per bedroom and/or per dwelling.
- A requirement that the owner must be able to attend the property within thirty minutes.
- A demerit point system is proposed to give negative points to rentals that do not comply with the licensing by-law or other municipal by-laws. If a maximum number of demerit points is reached, the license may be revoked. This will ensure that all municipal by-laws and requirements will be followed within our most vulnerable residential areas.
When we refer to short term rentals, we are speaking about furnished living spaces that are rented out for a short period of time. These are different from hotels or bed and breakfasts which have different requirements they have to meet under law. They are also commonly called vacation rentals. Short term rentals might be operated by anyone out of their own home or they might operate out of a property that was purchased specifically for the purpose of renting them to customers for short periods of time. Today, many are booked through web platforms like Airbnb™ or independent websites.
Currently, short term rentals operating in Bluewater do not need to be licensed. For the past few years, Bluewater has been working to educate short term rental operators and their visitors about important by-laws that visitors and residents must follow. Complaints are handled through the by-law enforcement department.
Several reports have been taken to Council for discussion. Past council reports and minutes of council meetings can be found in our council portal. Other municipalities have also been having similar discussions all over Ontario and in other places where short term rentals operate.
Recent council reports include:
- November 21, 2022
- September 19, 2022
- May 16, 2022
- May 2, 2022
- May 17, 2021
- November 2, 2020
- August 17, 2020
For more information, please contact Aaron Stewardson, Manager of Development Services or Nellie Evans, Administrative Assistant.