The future of short-term rentals under debate at Harrison Park



The future of short-term rentals in the Municipality of Harrison Park has seen party lines drawn, dividing the pros and cons of properties.

Harrison Park Reeve Jason Potter said short-term rentals (STRs) are a topic of growing debate in the community.

“We are seeing that people are staying closer to home, and I think that is what explains the major need for accommodation in the Onanole region now. We’re just tucked away against the south side of Riding Mountain National Park… People want to come over there, ”Potter said.“ It’s a good problem to have – people want to visit and ultimately spend tourist money. . We just have to find a way that alleviates the concerns on both sides. ”

The municipality began receiving complaints about STRs from local residents in early 2021, he said, and the council has seen an increase in complaints in residential areas since then.

The municipality is monitoring the situation and working to find a solution based on local concerns and the precedent set by other municipalities, both in Canada and around the world.

“Different municipalities, different cities around the world are really struggling to regulate short-term rentals, and Airbnb properties in particular,” Potter said.

Two delegations appeared before the council regarding STRs: one in favor of certain regulations and one calling for an outright ban on properties in all residential areas.

Potter demanded that the two opposing sides of the issue come together to have discussions to see if they can formulate a plan for STRs that could be presented to the board. Two counselors volunteered to sit with local groups.

Its ultimate goal, Potter said, is to strike a balance that meets the needs of Onanole residents while not making the regulations too restrictive for STR owners.

“I warned the council not to make a quick decision on this. I think if there was a new regulation to be implemented then it should be well thought out, ”Potter said. “At the moment, the two sides are distant from each other, and I really hope they can sit down and have meaningful discussions and come up with a plan to present to the board.”

Onanole STR owner Conner Ross appeared before Harrison Park board as a delegation on October 13. STR properties without on-site management to be banned from residential lots.

Ross owns two STR properties in the area.

Clear Lake has become an increasingly popular tourist destination year-round, and the market has helped the local economy grow, Ross said. STR properties can potentially help with this growth in tourism dollars.

“These properties bring a significant amount of business to our community. They bring a lot of positives and keep many businesses busy throughout the 12 months of the year,” said Ross.

He added that accommodation rentals in Onanole are limited, hence the need to ensure that DOSs are available to visitors. He estimates that if an outright ban were to take place, more than 70 properties would be affected.

Ross said he wants to see a good relationship between the community and the owners of STR. He is ready to work and collaborate to develop appropriate rules and regulations.

In the future, he would like to see the community work together to develop appropriate regulations for the Onanole region, allowing the economy to continue to grow and residents to be happy with the situation.

“It would be a huge prejudice to just shut them down and prevent tens of thousands of people from visiting our resort community – but I agree that now is the right time for an ever-growing industry. ‘sit down as a group of people and create bylaws, policies and procedures that can help the municipality, “said Ross.” We try to work as much as possible with the community. ”

Ralph Clark appeared before Harrison Park council on September 22 as a representative of a group of individuals opposed to STRs in residential areas. Clark first joined the group in August, but could not confirm when the group launched into the area.

The main concern of the group, he said, is that there are companies operating in the residential areas of Harrison Park.

“It’s a concern because if you look at city bylaws and zoning regulations, all businesses operate in commercial areas as opposed to residential areas,” Clark said. “If short-term rental owners want to operate like a business, they can find areas in suitable areas. ”

Careful planning is needed to ensure that STRs are in properly zoned areas, and Clark’s group is exploring communities that have faced similar situations.

Clark, who lives in the area full time, has seen firsthand how difficult it can be to have a neighboring property run as an RTS.

“We were directly impacted because I call it ‘auto check-in hotel’ [STR] opened across our road in a residential area, “said Clark.” The impact was there was noise, parking, trespassing, impacting a number of areas and a number problems that would be similar to any other business operating in a residential area. ”

Clark said that although the municipality has asked them to work with the owners of STR to find a zoning by-law that satisfies all parties, his group remains strongly opposed to the exploitation of properties in residential areas.

Based on current zoning regulations, all hotels and motels must operate in a commercial zone, he said, and the same rules should apply to DOS.

The only viable option Clark sees moving forward is to find viable commercial areas for the STRs to occupy or to have landlords living in the house with an STR rental, similar to a bed and breakfast.

“Businesses should operate in a commercial area, not in a residential area,” Clark said. “For two groups to come together to find a solution that will involve businesses operating in a residential area is totally against the regulations currently in force.

Real estate agent Tyler Plante owns only one STR in a detached condo at Bears Den in the Onanole area. It has had a busy year for 2021 with few vacancies, and next summer is already over.

Plante said opposition to STRs in the area had come out of nowhere and he was troubled to see residents calling for the properties to be closed completely.

“We were quite surprised. I will say that I am all for having rules, I am all for having rules. They are important. I can speak on behalf of all the tenants of the Bears Den… that we are very structured “said Plante. “We believe it is very important that our residents are taken care of and treated with respect.”

The Bears Den STRs support local businesses and help boost the region’s economy, Plante said, explaining that guests receive a welcome basket with details of stores to visit.

He fears that the call to ban STRs will negatively impact the region’s business community. Plante added that the proposal is also unfair as it impacts property owners – a closure would result in a loss of investment as properties will no longer be able to generate income if they are closed.

In the future, he would like to see rules and regulations developed that respect STR owners and their neighbors.

“I have no problem with middle ground… You can’t have the Wild West of short-term rentals,” said Plante.

“I totally agree with having a fair set of rules, periods of calm and restrictions… There has to be a governing body. But we have to take all facets and all angles into consideration.”

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