Short-term Rental Public Consultation

From Sept. 16 to Oct. 16, 2020 residents are invited to participate in an online open house regarding a proposed amendment to the Zoning By-law addressing short-term rentals.

Why is the City reviewing short-term rentals?

Individual browsing short-term rental website on mobile phoneWith the increasing popularity of online platforms, such as Airbnb, Vrbo, HomeShare and Flip Key, short-term rentals have become more widespread in the City of St. Catharines, throughout Ontario, and globally.

The use of residential properties for short-term rentals can make use of properties that are vacant or underutilized, provide supplementary income for the owner, and encourage tourism for the City, however short-term rentals can also have impacts to the surrounding neighbourhood and community. 

What we want to achieve

The City is reviewing short-term rental use, impacts and permissions with the goal of ensuring the City has a clear approach and a process in place that is fair and easy to follow, implement, and enforce.

The process

There will be a number of steps throughout this process and a variety of public engagement opportunities for the community to share input and feedback.

In late 2019 the City began a review of short-term rental use, impacts and permissions with the goal of ensuring the City has a clear approach and a process in place that is fair and easy to follow, implement, and enforce. In addition to researching various approaches of other locations, information was gathered on the community’s experience with short-term rentals, their thoughts, and what people feel the City should focus on for short-term rentals. Public consultation included a survey of community members.

In February, 2020, based on the research and public consultation, staff prepared a report and Council directed staff to proceed with a zoning by-law amendment for short-term rental use of properties, with regulations focused on protecting the housing supply; supporting efforts for supplementary income; the ability to enforce regulations; protection of neighbourhood character; and support of tourism in the city.

Balancing these diverse needs staff have reviewed previous public input, best practices and the current zoning by-law to develop a framework that will better address STR use alongside bed and breakfast operations.

What's changing?

In short the proposed Zoning By-law Amendment allows for some STR operations in residential areas provided they aren't the primary use of the property. The property must operate first and foremost as a full-time residence, with the resident temporarily renting out the entire dwelling unit on an occasional basis. The property cannot function solely as a STR; ensuring the housing stock is not impacted, while still allowing for individuals to generate supplementary income when away from home and provide accommodations for visiting guests.

This is being done by:

  • Defining STRs as home based businesses wherein a dwelling unit is rented for a period not exceeding 28 consecutive days
  • Requiring that a STR be the primary residence of the operator (owner / tenant)
  • Allowing home-based businesses to operate in any dwelling unit instead of the current limitation to only principal dwelling units; home-based businesses are still only permitted as secondary use for the properties they occupy
  • Requiring the provision of an additional 0.5 parking spaces for each bedroom being rented
  • Expanding bed and breakfast permissions to all dwelling types, provided the property owner / operator remains on site alongside guests

The public is invited to further review the proposed changes and provide their input via an Online Open House running until October 16, 2020.

 

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