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Oro-Medonte resident wants better enforcement for short-term rentals

Charges from police are 'all residents’ actions in conjunction with the OPP,' resident says
2021-05-05 Oro short term rental sign 2
The Oro-Medonte Good Neighbours Alliance has created lawn signs to draw attention to disruptive short-term rentals.

An Oro-Medonte man says residents are doing the heavy lifting when it comes to dealing with so-called party houses, or short-term rentals, in the township.

Paul Sanderson is the one who called police May 22 to inform them of a large gathering at a property near his. That led to six people from the Toronto area being charged under the province’s Reopening Ontario Act.

“It’s no thanks to Oro-Medonte whatsoever. It’s all residents’ actions in conjunction with the OPP,” Sanderson said. “Why do I have to do all of that?”

He believes the township should be doing more when it comes to bylaw enforcement.

Bylaw officers are always either on duty or on call, with extended hours during the summer. If it’s after hours, someone can call a number, provide information about a complaint and the on-call officer will respond to get more information and determine whether a visit to the property in question is warranted, according to the township.

Sanderson said that has not been his experience, likening it to “calling 911 and being put on hold.” Regardless, he would like to see bylaw officers show up when a complaint is lodged, similar to how police operate.

“They attend and find out/investigate what the heck is going on, serve the public and then decide next steps,” he said.

Oro-Medonte Mayor Harry Hughes said both police and bylaw officers “are responding to complaints.”

Bylaw officers do not share the outcome of their investigations with complainants, he said, because “it could jeopardize the issue if it goes to court.”

There have also been instances when bylaw officers have responded to a complaint, attended a property and were told by those on site that they weren’t renting and that a friend was allowing them to stay there for free. The township hired a company to track online short-term rental advertisements to clear that issue up.

While the township hasn’t been issuing news releases regarding bylaw violations at short-term rentals, Orillia OPP has sent a few when charges have been laid under the Reopening Ontario Act.

Sanderson hopes that serves as a deterrent, since the set fine for an individual who fails to comply is $750.

He has owned his Oro-Medonte property since 1953 and has lived there full-time since 2003. He said issues of disruptive behaviour with the short-term rental near his place have been going on for four years and estimated he has called police a dozen times.

“I’m NIMBY on this one and proud of it,” he said. “Get out of my backyard.”

The township enacted a bylaw in 2020 that clarified an existing prohibition on commercial accommodation and an amendment that defined commercial accommodation as temporary accommodation of a dwelling unit of 28 or fewer days. Commercial operations are not permitted in areas of the township zoned residential.

The Oro-Medonte Association for Responsible STRs took exception to that move and filed an appeal with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. A hearing date has not yet been set.

Nathan Taylor

About the Author: Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is an experienced multimedia journalist and editor who covers Orillia and other parts of Simcoe County.
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