CARLING TWP. - Pam Strelec appealed to council Monday night for leniency when it comes to Carling’s ban on renting waterfront homes.
She quoted the bylaw throughout her presentation and had the support of the Parry Sound and Area Association of Realtors president.
She and husband Danny have been fighting the township since it enforced a ban earlier this summer on renting waterfront homes.
Enforcement of the long-standing bylaw comes on the heels of a June 2011 Ontario Municipal Board decision upholding another municipality’s ban on short-term rentals in residential areas.
The Strelecs have their home listed for rent online between June 23 and September 3.
With a packed council chambers, Strelec addressed council, saying the complaint that initiated the enforcement of the bylaw against them was in retaliation for bringing the state of a neighbouring property, that they feel could impact the sale of their home, to the township’s attention.
According to the township’s bylaw, in a waterfront WF1-WF5 zone, if the homeowner has a business on the property, it must be limited to an office, an accounting business, lawyer’s office, hairdresser or similar business.
“The occasional rental of one’s home or cottage should not be defined by the township as an occupation, profession or trade,” said Strelec. “Nowhere in the Carling Township bylaw does it say that a resident of a WF1-WF5 zone cannot rent their home or cottage. This is an interpretation of the building inspector, an interpretation that we believe to be incorrect and which we are here today to ask for a retraction of.”
Strelec said both councillor Mike Konoval and town planner John Jackson had told the couple that it wasn’t the intention of the bylaw to stop property owners from renting their homes or cottages.
“We also believe that the intent of these sections (of the bylaw) is not to prevent home or cottage rentals. We also believe that to interpret these sections in this manner is discriminatory to those living in a WF1-WF5 zone as other zones, not on the water, are able to rent,” she said. “We could stand before you this evening and talk about who said what to whom, who was told they couldn’t speak to us and who could; about the fact that only if a complaint is lodged does the bylaw enforcement officer investigate a bylaw infraction but other known offenders are not held accountable; about how the complaint against us had nothing to do with any noise or problems they might have caused, but is strictly vindictive for a request to clean up what council has seen in the pictures provided to you.”
Strelec pointed out that nearby Seguin Township allows waterfront property owners to rent out their homes/cottages. She added if the township chose to uphold the current interpretation of the bylaws, at the very least, they should give a notice period to come into compliance.
Real estate association
Strelec read a letter from Kelly Purcell, president of the Parry Sound and Area Association of Realtors, in support of the couple’s plight.
“It seems that the real issue is quiet enjoyment of adjoining property owners,” wrote Purcell. “These neighbouring owners are also certainly entitled to the right of peaceful and quiet enjoyment, however there are provincial laws and other enforcement methods in place to deal with noise, parking and other issues...enforcing this bylaw, or any variation thereof in this manner, will set a dangerous precedent with a far-reaching and detrimental effect on overall property values and future tax revenue for Carling Township...this approach to enforcement will clearly stigmatize Carling Township for future buyers of waterfront property.”
Following her deputation, Mayor Gord Harrison acknowledged that the bylaw in question has become a very significant issue for the township.
“It’s one we’ll definitely take a look at,” Harrison said. “Thank you for your time this evening, for coming out and sharing your thoughts with us.”