A new bylaw for short term rental (STR) owners in Lambton Shores, which includes the requirement of an annual licence, will officially come into effect on Wednesday, February 1.
The bylaw passed in June of 2022, with regulations that include having an "on-call" person available at all times and limiting rental spaces to 10 occupants. Those who operate "owner-occupied" short term rentals (such as bed and breakfasts) will not require a licence.
Mayor Doug Cook said there's supposed to be 300 STRs registered for the full year.
"That's the number that we're working on. We're phasing it in and rolling it out by quadrants so right now, we have about 54 that have registered so far and there's another 91 waiting to have their licences registered," said Cook.
The application submission window is being held in three phases.
"February, March, and April are the three times that they're registering, rather than having everybody come in all at once," he said. "Just so that we make sure that everybody gets registered properly."
The final submission deadline is on April 15.
Cook said he suspects some STR owners opposed to the regulation will opt not to register for a licence but anticipates that most will.
"We're really pleased with the uptake that we've had from the STR operators. They have been very cooperative," he said. "This is the first year of the program so I guess we're going through the learning phase, same as everyone else. Then we'll review it every year to make sure that it's a program that works for everybody."
In the near future, more of these bylaws for STR owners may be seen in other parts of the province. The Town of Goderich was mulling over the possibility of issuing their own bylaw last year.
Cook said they have been contacted by other municipalities interested in obtaining a copy of the STR by-law to work from.
The new STR licence program replaces the previous registration program, so STR owners who registered in 2022 will still need a licence for 2023. The annual licensing fee is $500.
Individuals found in violation of the new bylaw could face a fine of $25,000 for a first offence upon conviction or $50,000 for any subsequent offences.
Tools to help during the licence application process can be found on the municipality's website.
-With files from Josh Boyce and Colin Gowdy