Gravenhurst council has taken the next steps towards setting an annual licensing fee and bylaw penalties for all short-term rentals.
Council decided to go ahead with a recommended fee structure and the implementation of a service agreement with a Hearing Office at the Sept. 20 Committee of the Whole meeting.
Town administration conducted a review of licensing fees imposed by other similar municipalities across Ontario and recommended that the annual license fee be $750 per property.
Coun. Varney sought to clarify if the $750 license was per landlord or per property, for example, “if someone has six cottages on a property, does the license cover one or all six?”
Kristen Ford-Bickers, Manager of By-Law Services said that it is per unit, if it meets the definition of what is a short-term rental, then a license would be required per cottage.
The report also recommends the adoption of the Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS), to replace current bylaws. The AMPS program essentially replaces the prescribed process in the Provincial Offences Act, and can be designed to meet the needs of the Municipality, the report said.
The process to issue a ticket remains essentially the same but with an increased level of discretion to attempt to resolve the ticket issue, such as the ability to reduce the fine or provide for payments. The report illustrated an example: any “persons who receive an upheld decision in a review by the Hearing Officer in relation to a Penalty Notice issued through the AMPs established through this bylaw shall be responsible for an additional fee of $250 for the purpose of the Town recovering administrative cost associated to the Hearing Officer Review.”
Coun. Morphy asked if the license fee would be tax deductible for property owners since it would be considered “an operating expense to earn income because if they can write it off, I’m a little softer on the amount.”
Melissa Halford, Director of Economic Development replied that they did not have the information yet but that in looking at other municipalities, that many owners considered the fees to be “the cost of doing business” and that some properties generated “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in revenue.
Halford explained that they looked to find a “happy medium” and after comparing to other municipalities, “some fees were ludicrous.”
Coun. Varney asked if the license fees would apply to non-traditional dwellings as well, saying that she has received multiple complaints from ratepayers about property owners placing extra trailers for example, on their lots for income purposes. Ford-Bickers said that any dwelling that meets the criteria will be subject to the license fee.
The new AMPs bylaw is proposed to come into effect at the beginning of 2023. When Mayor Kelly asked if there would be some kind of “Coles Notes” for property owners so they would understand their roles and responsibilities, Halford said that there would be “media blasts” and that staff would ensure information would be readily available in many forms.
The public can readily access information regarding the new bylaw, it will be posted on the Town’s Good Neighbour webpage, as well as the Town’s social media
“There will be loads of information, so much that you will probably get sick of it, ” joked Halford.
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