Dear Mayor and Members of Council

I am writing in regards to a letter and motion that was brought to council on June 13. I am one of the owners of 160 4th St W - the property that led to Councillor Tamming’s motion. Before getting in to any details regarding why an outright ban on short term rentals would not be in the interest of the city, I would like to discuss an obvious conflict of interest this motion brings.

Prior to bringing this motion and using our home as the reason, Councillor John Tamming should have disclosed to everyone that he is the former owner of 160 4th St W. He was the owner for 7 years from 2010-2017. The direct neighbour, who has also lived there since 2010,   was the primary complainant of the letter that was brought to councils attention.

The code of conduct for council members highlights the importance of council members performing their duties in a “fair, impartial and transparent manner”. There has been zero evidence of any bylaw infractions, capacity issues, traffic congestion, trash accumulation prior to this motion being brought forward. We have moved into this town just over a month ago and have rented out our home three times. How this could escalate to a city wide motion banning all short term rentals in such a small period of time is alarming. At the face of this, it seems it is being brought as a favour between a Councillor and his long term friendship with his direct neighbour of 7 years. This brings into question the merit and legitimacy of this motion.   (Councillor Tamming has responded to a query about this accusation here.)

I would now like to address the motion itself. Owen Sound is completely surrounded by municipalities that allow and regulate STR in residential zones. This includes the South bruce Peninsula, North Bruce Peninsula and the Grey Highlands. Even larger cities such as Mississauga, Brampton, Toronto, Burlington, Oakville, Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, etc, all allow STRs in residentially zoned areas.

Time and time again, city staff reports have found the benefits that responsibility regulated STRs bring to communities. Using public data from sites such as Airbnb and VRBO you will see that many host advertise local restaurants and attractions in their listings. This brings significant tourism, employment, and revenue for local business and the city itself.

In contract, staff reports have also found the immense cost and resources that trying to enforce outright bans entails. There are currently between 75-125 short term rental in Owen Sound. To enforce such a ban would require the hiring of numerous bylaw officers. The rising cost of living and property tax in this city is part of the reason so many home owners choose to rent their homes a few days of the month - Almost $17,000 a year for our home.

I can agree with my fellow neighbours in not wanting disruptive party goers on our street. Our property in question has 12 Cameras surrounding the exterior, as well as 5 NoiseAware⟨™⟩ sensors that monitor any noise to the decibel. That is why I can categorically deny with evidence that there have been any disruptive partying. In fact, we do not allow that. So far the guest that have attended have been families with children who have been wanting to get together after 2 years of lockdowns. What is classified as disruptive is obviously very subjective. On two occasions (once when we were they with friends), police were called to our residence and left after finding there was no merit to the complaints.iven that Owen Sound currently has no express bylaws for STRs, I am in complete support of a licensed system that deters irresponsible hosts. This license should be evidence based and much of this can be gathered from looking out how other municipalities have enacted their own laws. In the meantime, it would be detrimental and unfair to ban all STRs. Especially with zero evidence that they are “obvious threats to neighbourhoods”. The loudest voice in the room isn’t necessarily the one you should listen to.

Last but not least, I personally have taken down the listing for my property. Although I completely disagree with the accusations made, I do not think that a complaint against a single STR should impact the livelihood of all the other responsible host in this city. I will honour the current reservations but will not take on new guest in the meantime.

Thank you for all your hard work and stay safe,

Benson Ho & Nicholas Lee