Sarnia short-term rental rules under review

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City Council is now reconsidering short-term rental rules in Sarnia, but the reason is unclear.

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Council voted 6 to 3 to reconsider the 2020 settlement which has since been appealed to the province’s Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).

“As everyone knows, we did not get all the information in time for the May 3 meeting,” Coun said. Margaret Bird, calling for reconsideration of the motion and for a special meeting to discuss the matter.

Rules of procedure do not allow debate before a reconsideration motion, Mayor Mike Bradley said, cutting Bird off before she could say more.

Bird later said she believed the new information provided didn’t mean the board was changing its mind about the short-term rental rules.

Nothing more was said about the context.

A closed-door meeting has been set for July 19 because, on the advice of the city’s chief executive and the chief executive officer of business services, this review involves a legal question, Bradley said. .

More information on what will be discussed cannot be shared as it would be a closed-door meeting, Acting City Clerk Amy Burkhart said.

This policy requires an annual license for short-term rental operators like Airbnb, including regular building and fire inspections, limiting rooms for rent to three per property, providing at least four parking spaces, and requiring an owner or a long-term resident to live in the house.

An exemption in Sarnia was also enacted for the principal residence clause for operations existing prior to January 1, 2020, effectively securing these homes as long as they meet all other requirements.

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The rules, with the exception of the grandfather clause, are similar to those implemented in other towns and villages in the province. The rules in Toronto were already LPAT tested.

Sarnia’s bed and breakfast bylaw has been used while the city’s short-term rental rules are being revised, and city officials have encouraged operators to complete the licensing process.

The LPAT call focuses on the primary resident requirement, according to documentation from the first meeting last December.

A March hearing date has been canceled and no other hearing date for the case is given.

Robert Dickieson, a short-term rental operator in Sarnia who applied for party status for the LPAT hearing, said he could not speak to the details of the Sarnia board review because he did not want to jeopardize the discussions.

“The only hope I have is that it will be resolved soon because it has been (going on) way too long now,” he said.

Bradley and Councilors Bill Dennis and Mike Stark voted against the reconsideration motion.

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