The town of Bracebridge is hoping that new rules governing short-term rentals will help to alleviate public concerns.
Short-term rental accommodations have become an increasingly controversial issue in Bracebridge over the past few years. Complaints ranging from fire hazards and excessive noise, to absentee property owners and fireworks have become a major issue source of concern for some residents.
During yesterday’s general committee meeting, councillors decided to approve a new short-term rental accommodation (STRA) licensing by law.
The new bylaw covers a range of topics, including the number and cost of licenses, as well as enforcement and monetary penalties for those found to be in contravention of the bylaw.
Councillor Don Smith said he has some concerns with the monetary penalties for those who break the rules. He pointed out that the first contravention is actually less than the cost to register as an STRA.
Staff said under the Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS), the bylaw cannot be more than the registration cost as that would be considered punitive. However, he did point out that the system of financial penalties in the bylaw is a gradual, integrated and increasing penalty system.
Councillor Barb McMurray asked what someone should do if they have complaints in the middle of the night. She also asked whether taking video of the infraction would be helpful.
Chief bylaw enforcement officer Michael Mayer said complaints to bylaw are monitored 24/7 and will be triaged. If no one is available to deal with the problem, the bylaw department will contact the opp and they will follow up.
Mayor said video could potentially be helpful but the best option is always to have a bylaw officer witness the issue firsthand.
Town staff estimate that there are currently some 350 active or intermittent STRAs currently operating in Bracebridge. The bylaw would allow for no more than 4% of total private dwellings in town to be used for STRAs, which translates to roughly the number operating currently.
Under the new system, there are criteria for the suspension and revocation of licenses.
The bylaw includes an increase in licensing fees to be implemented from $250 to $1,500.
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