Bracebridge will continue to allow new short-term rentals (STRs) following a decision during the latest Bracebridge council meeting.
The previous week the town’s General committee had voted to place an interim control bylaw on STRs, which would have blocked the addition of new STRs.
During the general committee meeting councillors had cited a number of issues with STRs, including ongoing complaints from the public regarding issues like noise.
However, during the latest Bracebridge council meeting six delegations attended both virtually and in person to primarily voice their support for STRs.
Catharine Thompson told council she felt like STRs were being given a bad rap. She spoke about her experiences with short-term rentals and the vital role they had played to her financially as a single mother of four children.
She said many of the people who have rentals need the income, and aren’t just renting out to the “super rich”. She also pointed out they provide jobs in the areas for a variety of people including cleaners, yard maintenance workers and handymen. Thompson said guests using local STRs also put money into the local economy.
“There are a lot of people that are very concerned that if this goes through they will be left scrambling for employment,” she said.
Jed Corbeil explained to council that he’s been a local business owner since 2008 and his business relies heavily on tourism. He said a major concern is the shortage of places to stay in Bracebridge, with limited options available at hotels.
He said his businesses were hit hard by the pandemic and he rented out part of his own house as an STR.
“Having those options as an entrepreneur is very comforting,” he said
Councillors voted to amend the original interim bylaw control to ask that staff develop a request for proposal and engage a consultant to develop a short-term rental program by the end of 2022 to include but not be limited to land use and licensing provisions.
Coun. Don Smith said many people in Bracebridge benefit in some way from STRs but there are still issues that need to be dealt with.
“This will give us time to investigate the best way forward and develop a plan tailored to the needs of Bracebridge,” he said.
Council then discussed an amendment to remove the freeze on new STRs and create a mandatory registry.
Deputy Mayor Maloney said a mandatory registry would have more impact than a volunteer registry.
Coun. Andrew Struthers said it was the perfect solution as he had received many phone calls on the subject. None of those calls had been in support of an interim control bylaw but they had been in favour of greater controls on short-term rentals.
The vote to go ahead with the amended motion was unanimous.
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