It took almost four hours, but the short term accommodation official plan amendments and zoning bylaw amendments are moving forward in Prince Edward County.
Following a public meeting at Shire Hall on Thursday, council approved the recommended changes.
Mayor Robert Quaiff says this will move the County towards regulating short term accommodations (STAs).
The licencing of the short term rentals won’t appear before council until the first quarter of 2019.
The approvals mean those operating short-term rentals out of their homes are now considered legal non-conforming and can continue to operate as normal.
Eventually, with the licencing, they will be required to follow a set of regulations as determined by council.
Many people in attendance at the meeting stated this was moving too fast, it was confusing and council wasn’t solving the issues as the topic of affordable housing and STAs and the link between the two were linked together.
Councillor Janice Maynard spoke to the link between the two and said dealing with STAs is just one piece of the puzzle that is dealing with affordable housing in the county.
Twenty-three people spoke to the issue citing various issues such as the impact of regulations, a slower timeline to implement the changes and the reasons why many chose to allow short-term rentals in their homes.
Both sides of the issue were presented, with some residents asking for council to consider the excessive noise associated with STAs, parking issues and the potential link between the increase in vacation rentals and the decrease in available housing.
Others spoke about how STAs were helping people create a plan to move to the county, supplement their income so they can remain in the county, and deal with any potential issues the regulations will have on their ability to sell their home in the future.
During council’s discussion, Councillor Kevin Gale was concerned with how they would enforce their own bylaws.
Commissioner of Engineering, Development and Works Robert McAuley said it would be on a complaint-driven basis unless council chose to change that and become more pro-active.
The final approval on the official plan amendment and zoning bylaw amendment will come at their October 9 meeting.