Open House: Short-term Rental Zoning By-law Amendment

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Changes are being proposed to how the City considers and regulates short-term rentals, such as those advertised using AirBnB, but first we want to hear from you!

Staff have been collecting information and input on short-term rentals (STRs) since 2019, and are now preparing to bring forward proposed amendments to the Zoning By-law to better address short-term rental use. Please keep reading and take in the video presentation before providing your feedback in the Questions and Input tab at the bottom of the page.

What is a short-term rental?

In this case short-term rental applies to dwellings where:

  • The unit is rented for no more than 28 days
  • The entire dwelling unit is rented
  • The owner is not on premises during the rental period

This type of use is often advertised using various online platforms such as Airbnb, VRBO and Flipkey.

Currently STRs as defined above, are not permitted in residential areas.

Other rental properties

These STRs differ from other properties where rental is provided on a short-term basis.

Hotels and motels also offer rentals for periods of no more than 28 days with rental accommodations functioning as the primary use on site. These operations are permitted in certain commercial, mixed-use and employment zones.

Bed and breakfasts are similar to STRs in that they offer accommodation for up to 28 days. Unlike STRs however, bed and breakfast owners / operators remain on site during the rental period, renting individual rooms to patrons. Bed and breakfasts are permitted in residential zones as home-based businesses.

STR Zoning By-law Amendment objectives

Following public input in late 2019 Council requested amendments to the Zoning By-law as it relates to STRs in response to concerns over their impact on housing stock, property values, noise complaints and other problematic behaviour. In the previous staff report, considered by Council on February 24, 2020, five goals were identified for consideration when addressing short-term rental use:

  • Protect the housing supply
  • Support opportunities for supplementary income
  • Provide reasonable enforcement options
  • Protect residential neighborhood character
  • Support tourism and tourist spending in St. Catharines

Balancing these diverse needs staff have reviewed previous public input, best practices and the current zoning by-law to develop a framework that will better address STR use alongside bed and breakfast operations.

What's changing?

In short the proposed Zoning By-law Amendment allows for some STR operations in residential areas provided they aren't the primary use of the property. The property must operate first and foremost as a full-time residence, with the resident temporarily renting out the entire dwelling unit on an occasional basis. The property cannot function solely as a STR; ensuring the housing stock is not impacted, while still allowing for individuals to generate supplementary income when away from home and provide accommodations for visiting guests.

This is being done by:

  • Defining STRs as home based businesses wherein a dwelling unit is rented for a period not exceeding 28 consecutive days
  • Requiring that a STR be the primary residence of the operator (owner / tenant)
  • Allowing home-based businesses to operate in any dwelling unit instead of the current limitation to only principal dwelling units; home-based businesses are still only permitted as secondary use for the properties they occupy
  • Requiring the provision of an additional 0.5 parking spaces for each bedroom being rented
  • Expanding bed and breakfast permissions to all dwelling types, provided the property owner / operator remains on site alongside guests


What's next?

Please provide your feedback under the Questions and Input tab below, it will help guide us on our next steps. In November, following a public meeting, Council will review the proposed amendments and vote to accept / reject them. Feedback can also be sent via email to ShortTermRental@stcatharines.ca.

Based on the decision of Council, staff will proceed to draft licencing for STRs allowing for improved enforcement and regulatory efforts.

Changes are being proposed to how the City considers and regulates short-term rentals, such as those advertised using AirBnB, but first we want to hear from you!

Staff have been collecting information and input on short-term rentals (STRs) since 2019, and are now preparing to bring forward proposed amendments to the Zoning By-law to better address short-term rental use. Please keep reading and take in the video presentation before providing your feedback in the Questions and Input tab at the bottom of the page.

What is a short-term rental?

In this case short-term rental applies to dwellings where:

  • The unit is rented for no more than 28 days
  • The entire dwelling unit is rented
  • The owner is not on premises during the rental period

This type of use is often advertised using various online platforms such as Airbnb, VRBO and Flipkey.

Currently STRs as defined above, are not permitted in residential areas.

Other rental properties

These STRs differ from other properties where rental is provided on a short-term basis.

Hotels and motels also offer rentals for periods of no more than 28 days with rental accommodations functioning as the primary use on site. These operations are permitted in certain commercial, mixed-use and employment zones.

Bed and breakfasts are similar to STRs in that they offer accommodation for up to 28 days. Unlike STRs however, bed and breakfast owners / operators remain on site during the rental period, renting individual rooms to patrons. Bed and breakfasts are permitted in residential zones as home-based businesses.

STR Zoning By-law Amendment objectives

Following public input in late 2019 Council requested amendments to the Zoning By-law as it relates to STRs in response to concerns over their impact on housing stock, property values, noise complaints and other problematic behaviour. In the previous staff report, considered by Council on February 24, 2020, five goals were identified for consideration when addressing short-term rental use:

  • Protect the housing supply
  • Support opportunities for supplementary income
  • Provide reasonable enforcement options
  • Protect residential neighborhood character
  • Support tourism and tourist spending in St. Catharines

Balancing these diverse needs staff have reviewed previous public input, best practices and the current zoning by-law to develop a framework that will better address STR use alongside bed and breakfast operations.

What's changing?

In short the proposed Zoning By-law Amendment allows for some STR operations in residential areas provided they aren't the primary use of the property. The property must operate first and foremost as a full-time residence, with the resident temporarily renting out the entire dwelling unit on an occasional basis. The property cannot function solely as a STR; ensuring the housing stock is not impacted, while still allowing for individuals to generate supplementary income when away from home and provide accommodations for visiting guests.

This is being done by:

  • Defining STRs as home based businesses wherein a dwelling unit is rented for a period not exceeding 28 consecutive days
  • Requiring that a STR be the primary residence of the operator (owner / tenant)
  • Allowing home-based businesses to operate in any dwelling unit instead of the current limitation to only principal dwelling units; home-based businesses are still only permitted as secondary use for the properties they occupy
  • Requiring the provision of an additional 0.5 parking spaces for each bedroom being rented
  • Expanding bed and breakfast permissions to all dwelling types, provided the property owner / operator remains on site alongside guests


What's next?

Please provide your feedback under the Questions and Input tab below, it will help guide us on our next steps. In November, following a public meeting, Council will review the proposed amendments and vote to accept / reject them. Feedback can also be sent via email to ShortTermRental@stcatharines.ca.

Based on the decision of Council, staff will proceed to draft licencing for STRs allowing for improved enforcement and regulatory efforts.

Please provide us with any questions or feedback you may have regarding proposed amendments to the zoning by-law related to short-term rentals

Questions and Input

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