One thing we determined at the public open house in Picton on July 18 is that in the case of short-term accommodation, it does not appear that County zoning by-laws are being enforced.
Specifically, although current residential zoning in the County permits the use of a residence as a bed and breakfast, which is a home occupied by its owner, it does not allow a residence being used for short-term accommodation, which often are houses or cottages, rented daily or weekly and owned by absentee landlords.
One of the reasons that County zoning bylaws exist is to protect the integrity of the neighbourhoods of its permanent and seasonal residents.
Unfortunately, the quality of life of county residents is being impacted negatively by short-term rentals being run as commercial operations, no different than motels or hotels, in residential neighbourhoods, in blatant non-compliance with zoning bylaws.
In the meantime, the County is taking the positive step of assessing the possibility of a licensing program for short-term accommodation that hopefully will include common-sense regulations such as the maximum number of overnight occupants in a short-term rental unit and a strict requirement for renters to respect existing by-laws for noise, garbage removal, parking, outdoor fires, et cetera.
If the County does grant short-term accommodation licenses, it will have to employ sufficient by-law compliance officers authorized to enforce regulations and to take away licenses if regulations are not followed.
In our opinion, in order to protect the social fabric of our residential neighbourhoods, the County should ensure that both existing zoning and future short-term accommodation bylaws are enforced.
John Saunders and Paula Martin