Minden Hills looks at short-term rental regs
Minden Hills council will look at a licensing system for short-term rental accommodations within the township.
During a Dec. 13 meeting, councillors received the results of a survey that was undertaken in the fall. After a July open house regarding short-term rentals, such as those advertised through websites such as airBnB, the township issued a survey that was open from mid-September to mid-October. The survey garnered 420 responses, representing a high response rate for Minden Hills.
“That is the second-most-responded-to survey the township has had,” said planner Ian Clendening, explaining the first-most-responded-to survey had been the one the township issued regarding renewal options for the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena.
Of survey respondents, 77 per cent identified as waterfront property owners, either seasonal or year-round.
“This represents a response rate of 10 per cent for all residential waterfront properties, when you consider, for a voluntary response, that is phenomenal,” said Clendening. The majority of respondents – some 75 per cent – were supportive of the concept of short-term rentals.
“Predominantly, it’s yes, but with limitations and regulations,” Clendening said. Examples of those sorts of regulations include limiting the number of nights per year that dwellings can be rented out; limiting the number of occupants per rental; setting minimum lot sizes/frontages; or establishing separation distances between rental dwellings.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most negative feedback to short-term rentals came from respondents who identified as neighbours of short-term rental properties.
“The people who were most vociferously against short-term rental are those neighbours, and I think that speaks to the issue of regulation or bylaw enforcement, in some capacity,” Clendening said. “The issues are, in all honesty, things we have bylaws for – noise, etc., etc.”
If the identified issues weren’t things prohibited by municipal bylaws, they were those prohibited by provincial law, such as drinking and boating.
Councillor Jean Neville said she thought it was unfair that short-term renters were being labelled, when property owners, or in some cases the children of property owners, cause similar issues.
Councillor Pam Sayne said the township should be looking at those who rent out their properties on a regular basis, not just for a week or two a year.
“I don’t consider that a commercial operation,” Sayne said. “I think what we’re trying to get at there are those commercial endeavours.”
Councillor Bob Carter, who is also president of the Lake Kashagawigamog Organization, said the No. 1 issue with short-term rentals is the strain they put on septic systems, ones that are often not up to the task, thereby posing a threat to lake health.
“They’re very small, old cottages, they probably have inadequate septic systems,” Carter said, adding that sometimes up to 18 people will stay in one cottage, where renters are often required to do the laundry before they go. “They’re running seven loads of washing through, overloading the septic systems.”
“I’m for the allowing of the short-term rentals, but if you’re going to do it, then you have to prove you have a facility that’s capable of doing it,” Carter said.
A staff report will come back to council.