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Niagara Falls
Sunday, May 26, 2024
Council reinstates rental licence despite record of non-compliance
Resident Marlene Gallyot lost her short-term rental license for hosting weddings on her rental property. EVAN LOREE

A bed and breakfast owner in Niagara-on-the-Lake is frustrated with an “antagonistic bureaucracy” after having her permit revoked by the town.

Resident Marlene Gallyot on Tuesday night asked council to overturn a decision by staff to revoke her short-term rental licence.

After some debate, council decided to reinstate Gallyot’s licence effective June 1.

Town bylaw officer April Smith told Council Gallyot “has a history of contravention with other town bylaws,” noting she has hosted weddings at her property on Line 3 Road in violation of the town’s short-term rental regulations.

The owner would need to rezone the property or apply for an event permit six weeks ahead of weddings if she wanted to continue hosting them at the property.

When the vote was called, Coun. Gary Burroughs was the only holdout.

“I’m not clear that you’re actually intending to not do weddings,” Burroughs told Gallyot.

Burroughs said he was not sure if the solution was to rezone the land as commercial so Gallyot could continue using it as a wedding venue.

Smith said allowing Gallyot the right to keep hosting weddings on her property would open up a “can of worms” for other short-term rental owners to start hosting big events on their properties.

Burroughs agreed.

“My endeavours to use my property for small ceremonies stem from the challenges of finding suitable employment in the region,” Gallyot said, adding she hasn’t been able to find work in Niagara since leaving a job in Markham in February 2023.

She relies on the property and her services as a wedding officiant to help supplement her income, she said.

“It’s a big hammer to put somebody out of business,” Coun. Erwin Wiens said.

He said he’d prefer to help Gallyot find a way to operate within the town’s rules.

After a tie vote on whether to permit the resident’s operations, Coun Nick Ruller suggested the eight present councillors grant the permit effective July 1, so there were some consequences for her.

Coun. Wendy Cheropita, who was in favour of granting the permit, said Ruller’s intentions were still “heavy handed.”

“Why delay it for a couple of months just to slap her hand more?”

“I think we should give people the benefit of the doubt,” she added.

After some discussion, they agreed to split the difference and reinstate Gallyot’s licence on June 1.

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