Council moves to place regulations on STRA

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Georgina Council is moving forward to place regulations on short-term rental accommodations (STRA). In a report to Council on Feb. 27, a draft regulatory framework was presented that includes Official Plan/Secondary Plan amendments, a zoning by-law amendment and a licensing by-law. Council also approved $20,000 in funding for by-law support and enforcement during the summer months, and approved a recommendation to reach out to other York Region municipalities and the Regional Municipality of York to form a working group to look at the broader issues around STRA and involve the Province to address the legislative challenges.

“Georgina recognizes that short-term rental accommodations are part of our community. We need to work together to find a reasonable policy and regulatory balance that works for everyone, while also addressing the concerns of our residents and hotels, and other businesses that offer accommodations,” said Mayor Margaret Quirk. “The goal of the framework is to regulate negligent hosts and disruptive renters, maintain residents’ peaceful enjoyment of their properties and not make good STRA hosts unable to operate by imposing undue regulation. This is a concern for all Members of Council. I would like to acknowledge Councillor Dave Neeson for bringing forward a recommendation to bring the entire region together to tackle this challenging issue.”

STRA, such as those offered for rent via online platforms including Airbnb, offer rooms or entire dwelling units for rent on a short-term basis. It is estimated the number of active STRA in Georgina during the summer of 2019 will be approximately 100 to 150.

The proposed licensing by-law contains the operational regulations. A demerit point system is being proposed that will allow STRA that accommodate disruptive renters, and are run by negligent hosts, to have their licences removed. The draft by-law also requires proper inspection of each property and only allows STRA in a single detached dwelling, not in accessory apartments or any other type of dwelling.

The draft by-law also states that only one licence will be issued per property and only one per host. This is intended to limit the number of STRA operated by individual owners to discourage multiple STRA ownerships. A Renter's Code of Conduct, prepared by the Town, will be provided to STRA hosts when they are issued a licence. Before the regulations are finalized, a statutory public meeting on the proposed Official Plan/Secondary Plan amendments and zoning by-law 500 amendment will be scheduled. This meeting will also be used to gather further input, suggestions and comments from the public on a draft licensing by-law that will be presented at the public meeting.