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'A very new issue': Kenora discussing regulation of short-term rental properties


The City of Kenora is looking at the possibility of regulating short-term property levels amid a housing shortage and rising safety concerns in the still young industry.

The northwestern Ontario municipality is holding a series of open engagement sessions to gauge public opinion on the increasing amount of short-term vacation rentals being listed in the area on websites like Airbnb, Vrbo, and HomeAway, among others.  

"We know that there are short-term rentals happening here in the community," said Alberic Marginet, associate planner for the city of Kenora. "We also have a housing shortage that’s occurring so that’s something that’s really on our radar."

The first stage of the public engagement campaign began June 14 with a public survey to find out what people thought of the issue. The 16–question survey asks residents if they’ve ever rented out or used a short term rental unit before, if they've ever had problems with any in their area, and whether they live in Kenora year-round or only in the summer months.

The city is also concerned about safety issues after a Montreal apartment building with several unlicensed rental units burned down in March, killing seven people.

"It’s a very new issue across Canada and we don’t want to jump in to anything before we understand what it needs to look like," said Marginet.

The planning department is presenting four options to Kenora citizens: maintain the status quo and leave things as they are, implement zoning by-laws which would allow short-term rentals in specific areas, create annual business licensing requirements, or ban short-term rentals altogether.

Two public information sessions are being held at the Moncrief Construction Sports Centre on July 13 and 20. The city also discussed the issue on a recent episode of its official podcast.

"We're going to unpack what we know is happening in the City of Kenora, we're going to cover our position on short-term rentals, were going to cover the position of the province of Ontario, and we're going to provide all the options for regulations," said Marginet. "And then discuss what the community thinks about them."

He added the City of Kenora is currently undecided on the issue, and is hoping public feedback will provide some insight.

"We recognize that they are a benefit for the tourism in our community. We also recognize that they create a lot of nuisance and they impact our housing shortage," Marginet said.

He said other Ontario municipalities are starting to create regulations around the issue. The City of Winnipeg passed measures in February 2023 requiring the licensing of short-term rentals and an accommodation tax.

A report on the engagement campaign's findings will be presented to Kenora city council in September, with any recommendations to be implemented next year.

"We would like to have something in place - if we were going to do anything - by next summer," Marginet said. Top Stories

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