SUBMITTED BY DEBORAH SYMINGTON.
As a resident living behind one of the Garrison Village short-term rentals (also called “airbnb”) I would like local residents to know that both of these properties appear to be “illegal” according to the terms of the existing short-term rental bylaw.
Town staff issued licenses for both of the rentals calling them three bedroom “cottage rentals”, when (according to the current bylaw) they should have been licensed as “villas.” Had they been licensed as Villas, the owners would have had to apply for re-zoning and neighbours would have been notified. Both of these properties appear to contain four or more bedrooms and that is what the absentee landlords have been renting out; not three bedrooms.
The absentee landlords chose to surprise the neighbours with their plans for these properties. As a result parties of up to 20 people have rented these properties and usually on beautiful summer weekends when they can drink and noisily play in the pools and hot tubs.
The guests’ activities have caused parking issues, garbage issues, noise issues, and have affected the owners’ quiet enjoyment of adjacent properties and affected children’s studies. NOTL staff continue to maintain that these two properties are three bedroom “cottage rentals”. Meanwhile the property management company, that represents both rentals, has an online video of one of the properties that shows all of the bedrooms available — at least five. The previous rental listing for the second property showed three bedrooms upstairs and the fourth bedroom staged as an office.
The 2017 sale listings of these properties detail the correct number of bedrooms in each home. The house (according to the current bylaw) is defined as a “cottage” or “villa” by the number of bedrooms it contains not the number of bedrooms designated for rental.
The definition of a bedroom is a room with a window and a closet and this does not change if the bedroom is staged as something else. Also note, that since the complaint process began in the summer of 2018 the rental listings appear to have been revised.
Lastly, I would like all homeowners living in residentially-zoned areas of NOTL to know in 2010 the province gave a directive to municipalities to amend their bylaw to include short-term rentals in residentially zoned areas.
The bylaw was amended as instructed but consideration was never given to protecting the homeowners’ quiet enjoyment of their property and/or the long term affects of having these rentals in residentially zoned areas.
We have been promised that the bylaw is being amended but it is up to residents to ensure that the town listens to our concerns and provides an amendment which protects our quality of life. Research indicates that Collingwood/Blue Mountain is the only municipality that quickly took action to protect it’s residentially zoned areas from short-term rentals, ensuring that they remained in tourist zoned and commercially zoned areas, where they belong. This is an important issue for homeowners across Ontario. The Airbnb platform is gaining momentum and becoming an investor’s dream and a homeowner’s nightmare.