Short-term housing survey asks for insight in Highlands East

By Sue Tiffin

Published Feb. 19 2019

The following are brief reports of items discussed at the Feb. 12 meeting of Highlands East council.

Council is seeking input from the public to gain more insight into what approach to take with short-term rentals in the area beginning with feedback on a draft questionnaire. The survey is based on a similar one conducted by Minden Hills township.

Currently the draft copy asks the relationship of the survey taker with short-term rentals if the survey taker has personally experienced or observed short-term rental homes to be associated with unwanted behaviours (including noise parking poor property management and fire code concerns) and whether the survey taker believes short-term rentals play a positive role in economic development in Highlands East have a negative impact on traditional tourist accommodation operators such as bed and breakfasts or motels and if they have a negative impact on long term housing availability.

Survey takers can rank any concerns they might have and can note whether they are generally supportive of homes being used as short-term rentals.

The survey comes after the municipality decided not to proceed with a planned short-term accommodation committee last December.

At that time Mayor Dave Burton released a statement that said “[A]dvisory committees are governed by our procedural bylaw and legislated to follow the municipal conflict. A direct pecuniary interest is one that expressly or unequivocally has an impact on the individual members’ finances economic prospects or property value. The impact may be positive (i.e. the member stands to gain financial) or negative (i.e. the member is able to avoid a loss).”

Burton said the issue had been contentious and had divided the municipality.

When the questionnaire is finalized it is expected to be public for at least 45 days. It could be released via website social media distribution through cottage associations and/or a direct mailing which would require 6000 three-page copies and postage.

Written input into what the survey looks like will be accepted up to March 18.

A longtime attendant at the Lloyd Watson Memorial Arena Ken Riley recently retired.

“Many will miss his presence at the arena” said Jim Alden property supervisor in his monthly report. “Stating this the property department continue to work towards providing a great service.”

Council approved a recommendation from the recreation and culture advisory committee to purchase a portable generator for use at special events.

The recommendation came after Canada Day celebrations in Tory Hill last year when no power was available to run sound and recording equipment according to a report by Joanne Vanier community economic development and committee co-ordinator.

“Further discussion of Christmas events that could be held at the park in Tory Hill reinforced the benefits of having hydro available” said Vanier’s report. A permanent hydro connection was determined to not be feasible.

The generator will cost between $760 and $1450 and can be used at locations around the municipality as required.