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Oro-Medonte intensifies efforts against short-term rentals

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The Township of Oro-Medonte is intensifying efforts against illegal short-term rentals (STRs) by implementing a zero-tolerance approach that involves enforcing municipal bylaws on weekends and leveraging the use of fire and building services in the process.

"We have modified our enforcement coverage in time to make sure we deal with issues when the problems occur," said Mayor Randy Greenlaw. "At the end of the day, our priority is community safety."

In addition to fines for an STR operator, the township could seek an injunction against a property found violating its bylaws, meaning increased penalties.

"We absolutely support this move by the Township," said David Johnston, a volunteer with Good Neighbours Alliance, a special interest group of residents that aim to stop what they say are illegal short-term rentals. "I guess the enforcement seems to be the only way to convince these short-term rental owners to obey bylaws."

Johnston said residents have been terrorized in the past by visitors to short-term rentals.

"There are dedicated areas or bed and breakfasts that are specifically zoned for this," he added. "Proper parking, proper environmental controls, that does not exist within a residentially zoned neighbourhood."

But the local Association of Responsible STR's president, Barry Sookman, called the township's increased enforcement government overreach.

"It was actually ruled to be illegal by the Ontario Land Tribunal last year," Lookman said. "A recent report to the council also showed that there hasn't been a single nuisance complaint in the last few years."

Sookman said the restrictions on private operators also have unintended consequences on those who wish to have a cottage but can't afford to purchase.

"Especially against new Canadians," he added. "It's a real form of discrimination against people who would like to enjoy cottage country but are effectively being banned from doing so."

Mayor Greenlaw said the township would investigate complaints on weekends for the time being but added that it intends to return to regular weekday scheduling in the quieter months. However, the amendment could return should complaints increase.

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