Short-term rental bylaw on hold
By Jenn Watt
Published Sept. 11, 2018
Highlands East will be gathering more public input before moving forward on a short-term accommodations bylaw, council decided at their meeting Sept. 5.
Councillors heard plenty of opposition to a draft bylaw presented during an open house and public meeting, both held Aug. 29.
The draft bylaw had proposed a licensing fee, limited the number of renters allowed, and put restrictions on how long someone could rent a unit, among other things.
Most meeting attendees were not in favour of the bylaw, which some said was overly restrictive and micromanaged property owners. There was also criticism of the process, with questions raised about the task group that generated the bylaw, which had not kept public minutes.
At last week’s council meeting, chief administrative officer Shannon Hunter said the public meeting had brought in good information for council to consider as well as written comments. She asked council how they would like to proceed and presented options to get conversation started.
Councillors voiced support for option 2, which read: “Put the draft short-term accommodations licensing bylaw on hold in order for council to consider further public consultation such as a municipal wide questionnaire/survey and further public meetings. While council gathers information, regarding regulating short-term accommodations the revised task force could be working on an education package for all short-term accommodators and cottagers.”
Councillor Cec Ryall said there was a lot to digest from the public meeting and option 2 would allow time to do that.
“I would rather have it [the bylaw] postponed for a period of time, deferred for a period of time, until we’ve had a chance to review overall information that we’re getting back,” he said.
He pointed out that because the task group was not a committee of council, there had been no public minutes from the group. This had hindered conversations with his constituents and made the process less transparent.
Councillor Cam McKenzie echoed those sentiments, saying residents in his area hadn’t been aware of what was going on with the process.
Councillor Joan Barton said she’d also like to see reports coming to council, which would make the documents public and would keep everyone – councillors and members of the public alike – in the loop.
“That makes them [the reports] available not only to us, but to the public at large,” she said.
Council passed a resolution to receive Hunter’s report and to direct staff to bring back draft terms of reference for the task group.
With files from Chad Ingram