Plympton-Wyoming councillors want to limit the number of guests, cars and noise at short term rental units.
The town has been dealing with complaints about the ‘Airbnb’ type rentals for a number of years. There are more than 50 units in the municipality – most along Lake Huron. Residents, particularly in Blue Point, have voiced concern about the number of people in the rental homes, cars clogging the streets and loud parties.
Mayor Gary Atkinson made a bylaw to regulate the rentals a priority. He’d hoped there would be a system in place this year. Monday, council had a chance to shape the proposed regulations in a visioning session.
After over three-and-a-half hours of discussion, council agreed short term rental owners should have a licence from the town. They would need to provide contact information for a person who would reply to complaints in 30 minutes and be on site within an hour.
Councillor Alex Boughen wanted to “prevent investors from buying up property who don’t live near by and let staff figure out how to do it.” But he wanted the effect of the bylaw to be “corporations can’t buy licences.”
The proposed rules would also limit the number of people at the short term rental. Council agreed an owner should not be able to rent out more than four bedrooms with a maximum of 10 people in the unit although that number isn’t final. The majority of council thought people could build one additional unit on their property to create a short term rental, although Councillor Bob Woolvett wasn’t in favour of that idea.
“I don’t think we want people building tiny homes in their backyard and making them short term rentals,” he said Monday.
“That makes our problem worse,” said Woolvett.
Councillor Mike Vasey disagreed. “The people (license owners) live there; you have more control over the rental than anything else.”
Council also set limits on the number of cars allowed at a rental. Chief Administrative Officer Adam Sobanski says many of the complaints the town gets about short term rentals has to do with parking problems in the lakeshore communities.
Council is asking staff to draft the licensing bylaw requiring rental owners to have a minimum of one parking space for every two bedrooms they rent.
Councillor Alex Boughen says it only makes sense. “I should not be able to get a licence for an occupancy of 10 if I only have one parking spot,” he told council Monday. “It is the same as minimum parking requirements for businesses. It is perfectly reasonable to say if you’re renting a cottage you have to have enough parking for the amount of bedrooms you have and if not, you have to lower your capacity to meet what cars fit.”
The other major complaint stemming from the growing number of short term rentals is noise. For some time, the council has discussed whether it should have a noise bylaw to govern the entire municipality. The issue was brought up when a family was opening a wedding venue on Aberarder Line in 2020 and council chose to place noise restrictions on the site instead.
Council has again opted to go to a “mini noise bylaw” inside the short term rental rules, limiting loud noise from 11 pm to 7 am weekdays and 9 am weekends.
Councillor Kristen Rodrigues cautioned other municipalities tried the same thing only to have the regulations thrown out at the Ontario Land Tribunal.
Town staff will now draft some regulations for council to review and then, the town will hold a public meeting for input before they are passed.