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Dear Editor:

Re:         Short Term Rentals in Owen Sound and Our City Survey

It can be unseemly for former councillors to weigh in on municipal matters.  That said, I had a real interest in STRS during my council term and I continue to follow the issue avidly.  I don’t believe residential neighborhoods should be monetized.  I don’t believe that pop up motels should be squeezed into the places which we call home.

Two comments on the survey placed before us. 

First, the pace of these consultations is unfortunate.  Only now, a year after this issue surfaced, is the community being surveyed for its opinions on the topic.  It was a year ago that staff recommended a study.  Council, in a split vote (3 wanted an outright ban in residential neighborhoods), acceded to that request.  Residents and investors need clarity on STRs yesterday. 

Second, the survey, found here, is materially deficient:

  1. Question 3 lists a number of possible specified drawbacks for STRS.  Missing in the list is the concern that they serve to aggravate local housing and rental shortages.  The effect of STRs on rental supply has been a main driver against STRs throughout the province.  This should have been listed as a specified drawback.
  1. None of the questions allow for the position which many STR opponents hold, namely, ban STRS in areas zoned exclusively residential, permit them in those areas zoned commercial or mixed use.  This is a fatal error in the survey. 
  1. Question 7 adds to the confusion:  “Do you believe that STRs should be restricted to an operator’s principal residence?”   Many would want to see STRs so regulated in residential neighborhoods (no one objects to a traditional B&B) but are not opposed to a broader type of STR in areas which are zoned commercial or mixed use.  The question does not allow for this viewpoint to be expressed, although it was the overwhelming feedback I received while a councillor.    
  1. Question 11 affords three options:  status quo, an outright ban on all STRs and an STR licensing process.   These options do not, again, capture the very popular opinion held by many - allow STRs but not in residential neighborhoods.

As the survey presently stands, it cannot and will not elicit the full opinions held by ratepayers and residents, which is the entire point of such a consultative enterprise.


John A. Tamming




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