The Coming Legal Challenge for Our Township’s Zoning Bylaw

In July 2020, the Township passed amending By-law 2020-073 to Zoning By-law 97-95 which provided further clarity with respect to the prohibition on the operation of STRs in dwellings located in residential zones. This amendment further strengthened the existing Zoning By-law, which was already very robust, should a prosecution be necessary to shut down prohibited STR uses in residential neighbourhoods. The amending By-law has been appealed by some STR operators resulting in a Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) hearing. Preliminary steps in the appeal process have taken place with a hearing anticipated later in 2021.

The Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT), formerly known as the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), is a quasi-judicial administrative tribunal of the Provincial Government. Its role in land use planning matters is to formally hear the appeal by a ratepayer or organization who does not agree with all or part of a by-law passed under the Planning Act by a local municipality. These hearings are formal in nature, heard by one or sometimes two Chairpersons and both sides are typically represented by lawyers. In the case of the municipality, their goal is to present, through “expert witnesses”, evidence, reason and rationale as to why the by-law in question represents “good planning”. On the other hand the appellant hopes to convince the Tribunal that the Bylaw does not represent “good planning” with the goal of having it struck down by the Tribunal. Decisions of the Tribunal are typically released within a few months of the hearing. Any appeal of an OLT decision is heard by the Ontario Divisional Court.

The Oro-Medonte Good Neighbours Alliance supports the Township’s efforts to have the amending By-law successfully upheld through the OLT process as soon as possible. Oro-Medonte Good Neighbours Alliance Inc. applied for and was granted “party status” at the OLT proceedings. With party status Good Neighbours will now be directly involved in the proceedings. This is a critical step because it means that the Tribunal will be able to fully hear from the affected ratepayer homeowners about the actual problems and the threat to the peaceful use and enjoyment of homes in residential neighbourhoods.

A successful outcome to the OLT appeal will be an important step toward protecting residential neighbourhoods from disruptive short term rentals and stopping disruptive STRs from becoming your future neighbours.

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