June 21, 2020
Mayor Harry Hughes
Deputy Mayor Ralph Hough
Councillor Ian Veitch
Councillor Tammy DeSousaCouncillor Cathy Keane
Councillor Shawn Scott
Councillor Randy Greenlaw
Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Andria Leigh
Township of Oro‐Medonte,
148 Line 7 South,
Dear Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Councillors and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer:
RE: Proposed Short Term Rental Licencing By‐law
This letter is being submitted by the Oro‐Medonte Good Neighbours Alliance concerning Development
Services Report DS 2022‐093 (the ‘Report’) and the proposed licensing by‐law for short term rentals of
dwelling units (STRs) in the Township of Oro‐Medonte (the ‘Licencing Proposal’). The Alliance represents
the views of thirteen Residents Associations in Oro‐Medonte named below (the ‘Associations’)
concerning the STR issue. These submissions are being made in furtherance of the Letter of Support
dated April 28, 2022 which has been previously filed with the Township and is attached to this
correspondence for your reference.
Shanty Bay Residents’ Association;
Oro‐Station Ratepayers’ Association;
Barrillia Park Ratepayers’ Association;
Parkside Ratepayers’ Association;
Horseshoe Valley Property Owners Association;
Hawkestone Ratepayers’ Association;
Eight Mile Point Community Association;
Maplewood – Woodland Ratepayers’ Association;
Moon Point Ratepayers’ Association;
West Oro Ratepayers’ Association;
Bass Lake Oro‐Medonte Ratepayers Association;
Simcoeside Ratepayers Association
Reports of disruptive short‐term rentals date back to at least to 2017. Since this time, the Township
has not shut down one disruptive short‐term rental operator. We supported the Township’s quest to
make the existing Zoning By‐law ‘iron‐clad’ so that effective enforcement could occur. We assisted the
Township along this path chosen by Council at the Ontario Land Tribunal (‘OLT’). Supporting the
Township has led to a 2 year delay and an expensive OLT hearing. The many homeowners represented
by the Associations were led to believe that once the OLT hearing was over the Township would
commence prosecutions of operators of STRs that were disrupting neighbourhoods.
The failure of the Township to defend a clarification of the term ‘commercial accommodation’ at the
OLT has not changed the underlying Zoning By‐law 97‐95 (“ZBL”). Since 1997, the Township has had a
very robust ZBL which prohibits STRs in Residential Zones (R1, R2, RUR1, RUR2, SR and RLS) without
the need to place any reliance upon the ‘commercial accommodation’ amendment. This was
confirmed by both Ms. Andria Leigh and by Mr. Gord Knox in their expert witness statements filed at
the recent OLT hearing. The scope of the OLT hearing was limited to the 2020 ‘commercial
accommodation’ clarification and it is clear that the decision has no legal impact or effect on any other
provisions of the ZBL. In addition, the oral comments made by the OLT hearing Chair that the Township
look into licensing were clearly only suggestions and did not impose any obligation on the Township to
implement a licencing regime.
We are strongly opposed to any changes or amendments to the Township’s Zoning By‐law, Official Plan
or the implementation of any other regulatory instruments that would permit or allow STRs to become
a permitted land use in any existing residential neighbourhood.
In bringing forth the Licencing Proposal, staff is leading Council to legalize STRs and to permit them in
Residential Zones. Licensing STRs is a complete change in direction from the one chosen by all members
of Council back in July 2020. We believe that adopting a licensing approach at this time will lead to
further delays in providing protection for disrupted homeowners and it will not solve the problem.
What is needed is enforcement, not delay.
Compared to many municipalities, Oro‐Medonte is in the enviable position of having a very robust
zoning by‐law that clearly prohibits STRs in Residential Zones, even without relying upon the
‘commercial accommodation’ amendment. Given the strength of the Township’s ZBL we do not need
a licensing regime to control STRs. A licencing regime is something to consider only when all other
enforcement and control options have been tried and have been unsuccessful. That is certainly not the
case in Oro‐Medonte.
The experience in other municipalities has shown that licencing regimes are cumbersome, costly for
taxpayers and are of limited effectiveness in controlling the problem. Blue Mountains adopted
licencing as a control measure for the pre‐existing STRs in residential zones because their zoning by‐
law was insufficient and licencing was their only remaining option. Licencing has not however put an
end to the disruptive behaviour at STRs in Blue Mountains’ residential neighbourhoods.
The Report contains several fundamental flaws and inconsistencies. For example, the Licencing
Proposal is not entirely clear as to the nature or type of STRs to which it is intended to apply. There is
reference in the Report that it would apply to all STRs other than so called ‘dedicated’ STRs. We have however confirmed through legal counsel that it is not legally possible to licence an STR in a Residential Zone, even those that are not dedicated, as that land use is not permitted under the ZBL. In other words it is not legally possible to licence an illegal land use. Furthermore, attempting to enforce a distinction between ‘dedicated’ and ‘non‐dedicated’ STRs in order to shut down the ‘dedicated’ STR
operations will prove futile as the Township will not have the means or resources needed to obtain the
evidence needed for a successful prosecution.
Leaving this fundamental issue of illegality aside for the moment, if in fact the intended purpose of the
Licensing Proposal is to regulate all non‐dedicated STRs, we strongly believe that the provisions of the
draft licencing by‐law would be ineffective to stop the significant problems and disruptions that are
being caused by the STRs that are operating in our residential neighbourhoods and are threatening the safety and security of our residents.
In considering the Report, we invite Council to consider one fundamental question. Will the adoption
of a licencing by‐law for STRs make it easier or more difficult to obtain a prosecution that will be an
effective deterrent to operators who illegally carry on an STR business in our residential
Set out below are several comments and observations that support the conclusion that the draft
licensing by‐law will not achieve the goal of protecting residential neighbourhoods.
1. The problems and disruptions caused by STRs operating in residential neighbourhoods are well
known. They were described in detail in the Joint Residents’ Submission submitted to the
Township in April 2020 and updated on May 11, 2020. Residents who have suffered
significantly from the operation of STRs have provided extensive affidavit evidence and sworn
testimony describing the adverse impacts of STRs. Short term transient accommodations are a
fundamentally incompatible commercial use in a residential neighbourhood.
2. STRs are illegal in Residential Zones under the Township’s Zoning By‐law and have been illegal
since 1997 when the Zoning by‐law was adopted. This was confirmed in the testimony provided
under oath by the Township’s Deputy CAO / Director, Development Services, Andria Leigh and
by Mr. Gord Knox, the Alliance’s expert planning witness at the recent Ontario Land Tribunal
3. It is very important to note that the Report, in support of adopting a licencing by‐law, refers to
there being some uncertainty over the meaning of the term ‘commercial accommodation’,
which was the subject of the recent OLT hearing. However it is clearly evident that the words
‘commercial accommodation’ were only added to the Zoning By‐law in 2015, and then further
defined in 2020. Neither the changes in 2015 or 2020 had any impact on the other provisions
of the Zoning By‐law that were in place prior to 2015 and had already made it clear on their
own that STRs were not a permitted use in Residential Zones, and were only permitted in
certain designated areas in the Horseshoe Valley resort complex.
4. The OLT hearing was limited to the 2020 ‘commercial accommodation’ definition. The decision
has no legal impact or effect on any other provisions of the ZBL. The Township could therefore
proceed with enforcement to shut down disruptive STRs based on these pre‐existing ZBL
provisions. We have confirmed through legal counsel that this approach is sound and that the
OLT decision would not be relevant to, and would not affect nor jeopardize the outcome of an
enforcement action brought in the Ontario Superior Court under section 440 of the Municipal
Act. Legal counsel has confirmed that decisions of the OLT are not legal rulings as to the
interpretation of the land uses that are prohibited under a zoning by‐law. The determination
of permitted and prohibited land uses are within the exclusive jurisdiction of a court of law,
which does not include the OLT.
5. The discussion in the Report states that extensive research has been conducted on the matter
of STRs in other jurisdictions. The report mentions that other townships have implemented
licencing for STRs and appears to suggest this as a basis for adopting the Licencing Proposal.
This commentary in the Staff Report is however incomplete and potentially misleading. In fact,
in the townships of Blue Mountains, Carling, Clearview and Seguin, the zoning by‐laws prohibit
STRs in residential neighbourhoods. In Blue Mountains the zoning by‐law only permits STRs in
a concentrated geographic area near the ski facilities. The Blue Mountains zoning by‐law was
upheld by the predecessor to the OLT. In addition, in 2021 the Vice‐Chair of the OLT upheld the
zoning by‐law in Niagara Falls that does not allow STRs in residential neighbourhoods and only
permits STRs in the downtown tourist area. The existing zoning structure in Oro‐Medonte
reflects the same principles as in Blue Mountains and Niagara Falls. We believe that this is
fundamental information that should have been included in the Report.
6. Blue Mountains has had a licencing regime in place for at least 10 years for STRs in those zones
where they are permitted and for those that were in existence in residential neighbourhoods
prior to 2009. The existence of licencing in Blue Mountains has not however been successful in
putting an end to the disruptive behaviour at STRs in Blue Mountains’ residential
neighbourhoods. This was not discussed in the Staff Report.
7. The Blue Mountains licensing regime is very much a work in progress and is often held out as
an exemplar. The fact is that after 10 years of trying to control disruptive STRs, the program
has been a very costly failure. We believe that fundamental information about the Blue
Mountains experiences with licensing must be presented to Council and taken into account.
For example, in more than 6 years of administering licensing, not one license has been revoked.
To help guide staff and Council, the Alliance continues to offer to facilitate meetings with
representatives of the Blue Mountains Ratepayers’ Association who have first‐hand experience
with the fact that licencing has not curtailed the disruptive behaviour.
8. A significant and fundamental omission in the Licencing Proposal is the fact that even in the
unlikely event that a licence is revoked, it will not prevent the STR from continuing to be
operated. This is because the licence is issued to the applicant who is operating the STR ‐ the
licence is not attached to the property itself. As a result should there be infractions that result
in a revocation of the licence, a related person or entity (such as a new corporation) could then
simply apply for a new licence. And this can occur even without any change in the ownership
of the property. As a legal matter the infractions incurred under the original operator’s licence
could not be used as a justification to refuse to issue a new licence to the new STR operator,
even if that new operator is related to the previous operator. And so the disruptions will
continue, with the change in the licenced operator merely window dressing.
9. The draft licencing by‐law extends to all types of STRs ‐ it describes everything from occasional
STR use (less than 30 days per year) to multi property STR operators renting for unlimited days
per year with an unlimited number of occupants. This is completely at odds with the concept
in the Report that only ‘non‐dedicated’ STRs would be able to obtain a licence, ie. How could a
multi‐STR operator renting for unlimited number of days not be a dedicated STR? These
concepts severely increase the risk to the Township and residents.
10. The suggestion that so called ‘dedicated’ STRs will be identified by the Township and would
then be shut down does not hold up when carefully considered. Establishing an enforceable
distinction between ‘dedicated’ and ‘non‐dedicated’ STRs will not be possible in practice.
Consider the following: A review of AirDNA data shows that a well‐known STR operator in the
Township generates over $100,000 in annual revenue from a single property. At the same time
this operator has publicly claimed that the predominant use of the property is by the operators’
It is not realistic to suggest that the Township will have the means or resources to successfully
shut down this type of operation even though any reasonable viewpoint would be that it is a
‘dedicated’ STR. How would the Township ever prove that the property was not used by the
operator’s family? Will the Township hire additional staff to monitor every suspected
‘dedicated’ STR property on a daily basis to establish exactly who was occupying the property
and the length of their stay? Verifying usage that contradicts claims of personal use by an STR
operator will simply not be possible.
And of course this will be the model adopted by every STR operator – every operator will claim
that the property is for personal use and only rented when the operator or their family is not
able to do so. The end result is that no STR would ever be shut down on the basis that it is a
11. STRs in Oro‐Medonte offer no benefits to the community. A relatively few property owners are
generating significant revenues for themselves at the expense of neighbours who are severely
impacted. Any alleged benefits to the community from hiring of service personnel and
shopping are insignificant and do not justify the threat to the safety and security of
neighbouring residents. It is well established that permanent residents contribute more to the
community than visitors. The revenue earned by the operators in 2020 alone was over $10
million*. This is money that is earned at the expense of neighbours and it goes straight into the
pockets of the STR operators. [*AirDNA 2020 data based on rentals on Airbnb and VRBO]
12. The proposed licensing regime is legally unnecessary and it would be very costly to administer
well. We note that Ms. Leigh has previously reported to Council that Blue Mountains has spent
more than a million dollars trying to administer a licensing scheme. Yet the Report contains no
discussion of the economic benefits or the costs that would be incurred in trying to administer
a licensing scheme.
13. Revenue streams from the Municipal Accommodation Tax and licensing fees have been shown
to be illusory for municipalities. According to AirDNA data, in Ramara Township and after 2
years, fewer than 40% of the STRs carrying on business and advertising on Airbnb and VRBO
have obtained a license. Given that the Township can effectively address the problems caused
by STRs simply through enforcement of the ZBL, it would not be financially responsible to use
any taxpayer money to try and control STRs through licencing. Licencing will only make
enforcement more difficult and thereby enable STR operators to continue to reap the revenues
from their STR operations.
14. The oral comments of the Chair of the recent OLT hearing suggesting the Township look into
licensing were clearly ‘obiter dictum’ and were not integral or essential to her decision. These
comments do not have the effect of imposing any obligation on the Township to implement a
licencing regime. While we await her written decision, Council should be reminded that the
overwhelming majority of homeowners resoundingly rejected the first draft licensing by‐law
more than 3 years ago. Disrupted homeowners did not want to feel unsafe in their own homes
and they did not want to be a desk clerk for an absentee STR operator. Fearing reprisal, they
did not want to have to phone the police or municipal law enforcement at all hours of the day
or night. By a show of hands at the public meeting in May 2019, not one person including the
STR operators present wanted to live near a short‐term rental. These same concerns were
again repeated by the fact witnesses presented by the Alliance at the recent OLT hearing.
15. It is now three years later and the same concerns are just as valid. Homeowners have not
asked for licensing. They have continued to seek the removal of disruptive STRs in residential
neighborhoods, not their legalization. Time has only hardened their views that the Township
has, so far, failed to protect them. They want no part of legalizing STRs in residential
Two years ago we started down the path of seeking an ‘iron clad’ by‐law with the intent of
enforcement. The Licensing Proposal contained in the Report is a complete departure from this path,
a path that Council chose and homeowners have patiently supported. Homeowners seek peace and
security in seeing that disruptive STRs are shut down.
If the Township were to change direction and undertake a licensing scheme, it would be taking on a
very significant financial and security risks and homeowners would rightfully feel betrayed.
Furthermore, should STRs be legalized, it cannot be undone. There can be no going back. Such changes
are effectively forever.
At the outset, we posed the following question for Council to consider: Will the adoption of a licencing
by‐law for STRs make it easier or more difficult to obtain a prosecution that will be a deterrent to
operators who illegally carry on an STR business in our residential neighbourhoods? We believe, based
on the experiences of other municipalities including Blue Mountains, that it will be far more difficult,
more costly and ultimately less successful to enforce a licencing scheme than to enforce the existing
Enforcing the existing ZBL is what the vast majority of homeowners want and more importantly need.
This path is the best path forward and needs to be tried. Maintaining and protecting safe and healthy
neighbourhoods and communities must be the paramount objective. Homeowners, their
neighbourhoods and their communities deserve nothing less than the best efforts of the Township.
We would be pleased to discuss this matter in further detail at your convenience.
The Board of Directors,
Oro‐Medonte Good Neighbours Alliance Inc.
Cc Resident Associations
Letter of Support
To: The Township of Oro‐Medonte,
Att’n: Members of Council and Senior Staff
And To: Oro‐Medonte Good Neighbours Alliance Inc.
Att’n: Board of Directors
Re: Short Term Accommodations in the Township of Oro‐Medonte
The Residents Associations understand that the Ontario Land Tribunal (‘OLT’) recently allowed the appeal of Oro‐
Medonte Zoning By‐law 2020‐073 (the ‘ZBA’). The Residents Associations were unanimous in supporting the
enactment of this by‐law and the efforts by the Township and the Good Neighbours Alliance to have it upheld. The
Associations understand and are pleased that the Township is now in the process of strengthening the protections
of our residential neighbourhoods by seeking leave from the Ontario Divisional Court to appeal the OLT decision and
have it overturned on the basis that it contains errors of law.
The Residents Associations agree with the Township and are very disappointed with the OLT decision. The
Associations understand however that the provisions of Zoning By‐law 97‐95, which were in place prior to the ZBA
being enacted, are not affected by the OLT decision or the outcome of the appeal to the Divisional Court.
The Residents Associations also understand that the Township is in the process of preparing an update to the
Township Official Plan.
Given these recent events, the Residents Associations signing below believe it is worthwhile to provide the Township
and the Alliance with an update on their views concerning this very important issue, as set out below.
1. The Associations fully support the provisions of Township of Oro‐Medonte Zoning By‐law 97‐95 as in place
prior to the enactment of the ZBA, which prohibit temporary or short term rental accommodations in
dwelling units located in any Residential Zone (R1, R2, RUR1, RUR2, SR and RLS) in the Township.
The Associations believe that legal non‐conforming use status cannot be applied or granted to any short
term accommodation use of a dwelling unit located in a Residential Zone, unless such land use can be
established and proven as having commenced prior to the enactment of Zoning By‐law 97‐95 in 1997 and
that such land use has been continuous, without interruption or abandonment since that time.
2. The Associations fully support the Township going forward with enforcement of Zoning By‐law 97‐95 for
the purpose of stopping short term accommodation land uses in dwelling units that are disrupting
residential neighbourhoods in the Township.
The Associations believe that such enforcement action needs to be taken by the Township by way of
proceedings under Section 440 of the Municipal Act in order to restrain and secure a permanent injunction
prohibiting such short term accommodation land uses.
The Associations believe that other types of enforcement proceedings that only provide for penalties by
way of monetary fines will merely be considered by some STR owners as a cost of doing business and
therefore may not put an end to the disruptive behaviour. A permanent injunction under Section 440 of the
Municipal Act is not likely to be ignored by an illegal short term rental operator.
3. The Associations fully support an update to the Township Official Plan which reiterates and reinforces the
existing prohibition on temporary short term rental accommodations in dwelling units located in any
Residential Zone in the Township.
The Associations believe and trust that the Township will update the Official Plan to include the following
i. Short term accommodation in dwelling units shall not be a permitted land use, and shall continue
to be prohibited, in any existing residential area;
ii. Short term accommodation land use shall be considered a commercial land use;
4. The Associations fully support, and will assist if asked, the Township in its appeal to the Ontario Divisional
Court of the OLT decision in file no. PL200395.
The Associations encourage and welcome a dialogue between the Township and the Alliance in order to achieve
these objectives and support the Alliance providing further information and submissions in this regard. The
Associations believe that the integrity and the safety of our residential neighbourhoods must be protected and that
these objectives are the basis of the needed and necessary safeguards to ensure that protection.
Dated: April 28, 2022
Shanty Bay Residents’ Association Bryn Pressnail
Oro‐Station Ratepayers’ Association David Johnston
Barrillia Park Ratepayers’ Association Peter Lavoie
Parkside Ratepayers’ Association Kim Pressnail
Horseshoe Valley Property Owners Association Lori Hutcheson
Hawkestone Ratepayers’ Association Glenn Stringer
Eight Mile Point Community Association Jerome Horowitz
Maplewood‐Woodland Ratepayers’ Association Gene Stein
AWARE Oro‐Medonte Ann Truyens
Moon Point Ratepayers’ Association Liz Kirk
West Oro Ratepayers’ Association Domenic Natale
Bass Lake Oro‐Medonte Ratepayers Association Stephen Davids
Simcoeside Ratepayers Association