With an estimated 300 Airbnbs, cottage rentals and other short-term rentals currently operating in Bracebridge, and more likely on the way, council considered a moratorium on the properties during their latest council meeting.
Bracebridge is currently in the midst of developing new rules and bylaws to govern short-term rentals but Coun. Don Smith argued those rules and bylaws could potentially take years before they go into effect.
During the latest Bracebridge Town council meeting, Smith proposed staff take a look at the feasibility of implementing a moratorium on short-term rentals.
He said there are considerable concerns in the community with short-term rentals and their growth has exploded locally in the past several years. With the potential for many of the existing uses of short-term rentals being grandfathering in under new rules, Smith said the Town needs to consider taking action.
“We need to slow them down until the regulations are in place or we may have many hundreds more in town,” he said.
Coun. Archie Buie agreed, saying many municipalities in Muskoka already have short-term rental rules on the books, and Bracebridge is lagging behind.
“I think it’s a wise motion that gives us a chance to see if we can deal with this quickly,” said Buie.
Other councillors had some serious concerns about staff’s ability to create such a report, considering the myriad other issues they’re facing as they head into 2022.
Town CAO Stephen Rettie pointed out that council just approved a business plan for the upcoming year and a request of this magnitude would require considerable reshuffling of priorities.
“We’re going to dig into this if we do it. It will be months of work,” said Rettie. “The department is overrun…and we proposed a business plan for you that you accepted.”
In the spirit of compromise, councillors decided to speak privately with staff to get more information without the need to create a formal report.
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