MUSKOKA - The District of Muskoka is trying to get a grasp on just how big the cottage rental industry is in Muskoka.
In a recent second home survey, the district found that fewer than 10 per cent of those who have a second home in Muskoka say they rent out their cottages. Currently renting out your cottage in Muskoka doesn’t have any extra regulations or financial ramifications when it comes to taxes.
The district’s planning and economic development committee debated whether or not to include doing some legwork on the cottage rental business as part of an official plan review to see how many cottages are involved, how rentals impact resorts and what impact the business has on tourism.
Samantha Hastings, director of policy and programs for the district, said people may not be honest about whether or not they rent out their cottages, so it would be difficult to get exact numbers. She said the important part is to keep in mind how cottage rentals may impact the resorts, not that they need to do something about cottage rentals.
Paul Wiancko, a councillor for Georgian Bay, disagreed. He estimates a quarter of the people coming to Muskoka in the summer could be going to cottages.
“If it is 25 or 30 per cent then I think in the long term the area municipalities of the district can look at controlling or policing some of these things,” he said.
District chair John Klinck said he feels very strongly they need to address the issue, but feels it’s a lower-tier responsibility.
“I don’t believe we have the ability to enforce it, to follow through,” he said, stating a broad policy statement would not be the right approach to it.
Klinck suggested it’s up to the neighbours to make sure there are not 50 people in a three-bedroom cottage.
Huntsville Mayor Claude Doughty said they don’t need to know exactly how many cottage rentals are out there.
“We just need to decide what role does that play with the bigger question that’s before this committee in terms of what happens with the tourism industry?”
But there may be long-term consequences for cottage owners in the future.
“I think at some time we are going to have to get some kind of controls on these rental cottages,” said Wiancko.