Council moves to take immediate action on an Air BnB location that is inexcusable and intolerable for people in the Lakeshore Goodram part of the city.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October 11th, 2019



There is a group of people who live on the eastern side of the city, south of New Street, along Lakeshore Road in the tonier part of town where there is a tendency for those flush with cash to want to build what Burlington calls “mega monster” houses. 5,000 square feet seems to be the minimum.

Lakeshore mega 4319 A view

Located at the corner of Goodram and LAkeshore, the house is for sale and being rented out for events.

The problem for those in the Lakeshore – Goodram – Oak Cr neighbourhood is an 8,000 sq. ft. dwelling that is on the market; first offered at $4.9 million now priced at $4.3 million.

There are people who have seen an opportunity with these buildings – they buy them and rent them out for weddings and large family gatherings using the Air BnB platform.

While waiting for the property to change hands the owner (or someone representing them) is renting the space out as a banquet hall.

Renting a house for a large family gathering is one thing – no one is offended by that kind of operation. Where things have gotten out of hand are with those who rent the space – at a fee of $1,250 per night – for graduation parties, wedding parties, family reunions or events when there is excessive drinking and all kinds of noise – at three and four in the morning.

People throw up on the lawn – and on the lawn next door as well. You can only image the behavior.
The area residents have organized as a Committee – ACT – Active Community Team, and have done everything they can think of – they have found the by-law enforcement to be of little use.

They appeared before city council earlier this week asking for an immediate Interim By-law that can be enforced by the city. The Staff report prepared for the meeting didn’t offer much in the way of relief.

Here are the relevant parts of that report:

The City of Burlington’s Zoning By-law 2020 does not specifically address short-term accommodations. The Zoning By-law identifies zones and provides regulations for areas that permit residential uses, but it does not regulate ownership or rental duration of residential dwellings. Dwelling units have historically been rented via monthly or annual leases and there are no current regulations that prohibit the rental of dwelling units for shorter periods of time.

The Zoning By-law also defines Bed and Breakfast Homes as:

An owner-occupied detached dwelling offering short-term lodging for compensation to the travelling and vacationing public. Guest rooms or suites may include a private bath but shall not include cooking facilities. Breakfast and other meals, services, facilities, or amenities may be offered exclusively to guests.”

Regulations under Part 1, Section 2.21 of the By-law, indicate Bed and Breakfast Homes are a use permitted in all zones, in detached dwellings only, on lots greater than 18 m in width, are limited to 3 guest rooms, and require an additional parking space for each guest room in addition to the parking requirements for the dwelling. A short-term accommodation is not currently regulated in such a fashion as it is not currently defined.

In recent years many municipalities have initiated studies to assess the impacts and develop regulations for short-term accommodations in response to issues arising in their respective communities. This includes larger municipalities such as Toronto, Mississauga, Ottawa and Oakville, and smaller jurisdictions like Niagara on the Lake, Prince Edward County and Kawartha Lakes. The studies identified positive impacts such as financial benefits to homeowners struggling with housing affordability and increases in tourism; as well as nuisance issues related to traffic, noise and property maintenance in residential neighbourhoods, and potential negative impacts on the long- term rental market if it is more profitable to rent for short terms. Concerns have also been raised by hotels, motels and businesses traditionally involved in tourist accommodations that different rules and taxation apply to short term accommodations.

The studies also identified the range of stakeholders to be consulted in assessing benefits and impacts, and a variety of tools that could be implemented to regulate short- term accommodations. These include updates to policy documents and enactment of zoning by-laws, and licensing and registration tools. For example, some municipalities have restricted rentals to specific types of units; or only to units where the host is the principal resident; or specific zones or geographic areas. Licensing can be required only for the host or may also be required for the company providing the booking platform.

In Burlington, staff respond to many public inquiries seeking information on requirements to permit short-term accommodations within an existing dwelling unit, as well as questions from neighbours concerned about the potential for short-term accommodation uses when an accessory dwelling unit is approved. Additionally, complaints are received about noise, parking, traffic management, safety and garbage that residents attribute to short-term accommodations; as well as complaints about dwellings that frequently host events such as large parties and weddings.

By law person

By law enforcement officer

Burlington needs to develop an approach to short-term accommodations that responds to the issues and concerns raised above, provides the appropriate policy and regulatory framework to accommodate this emerging land-use and minimizes neighbourhood impacts. A study to assess impacts of the sharing economy was initiated by planning and licensing staff several years ago but was suspended to respond to other Council priorities. The specific issue of short-term accommodations was subsequently added to the Comprehensive Zoning By-law Review study that is scheduled to begin in Q3 2020 and will require a multi-year timeframe.

In response to the September 23, 2019 Council motion, options to address development of short-term regulations are presented below.

• Planning, Zoning and licensing staff will continue to gather research on short-term accommodation studies, policies, by-laws and regulations being prepared by other municipalities.
• Planning staff will monitor the outcome of LPAT hearings related to short-term accommodation by-laws enacted by other municipalities.
• By-law Enforcement staff will continue to respond to and investigate complaints and fully enforce current bylaws such as noise, property standards, exterior maintenance and parking.
• By-law Enforcement staff will continue to collaborate with other enforcement agencies/stakeholders and communicate with the Integrated Municipal Enforcements Team (IMET) which consists of Halton Regional Police Services, Halton Public Health, Burlington Building & Bylaw Enforcement, Burlington Fire Services and the Alcohol Gaming Commission of Ontario.

Medium-term (2020):
• Planning staff will initiate work on a Terms of Reference for a Short-Term Accommodation study to be incorporated with the Comprehensive Zoning By-law study with assistance from Zoning, Licensing and By-law Enforcement staff.
• Licensing and By-law Enforcement staff will monitor the effectiveness of licensing and registration by-laws enacted in other municipalities.

• The Terms of Reference for a Short-Term Accommodation study will be presented to Council for approval and the study will be undertaken in conjunction with the Comprehensive Zoning By-law Review.

• The study process will involve stakeholder and public engagement, and address matters including impacts on the rental housing market; housing affordability and tourism; potential policy and zoning by-law amendments that consider types of units, applicable zones, geographic areas, parking impacts and specific regulations; and licensing and registration options.

Options considered

Council could direct staff to proceed immediately with a short-term accommodations study. However, there is no capacity with the current staff complement. Should Council wish to initiate a short-term accommodation study in advance of the Comprehensive Zoning By-law Review, staff would need to report back on additional resource requirements, including one-time funding sources.

Mary Alice 2

Mary Alice St. James.

ACT was stunned – they expected something that would put an end to the problem; they had been living with it for more than a year.

The city has not been able to handle this kind of problem. For one – none of the bylaw enforcement officers are on duty when the behaviour takes place.

There is a lot of confusion within the municipal sector on just how to handle this kind of problem.

The Burlington approach to by law enforcement is to wait until someone complains. They then send someone out to see if they can solve the problems; if that doesn’t work they then issue letters and eventually a ticket.

With the income reaching $1250 per night a ticket would be seen as just part of the cost of doing business.

ACT wanted an Immediate Interim Bylaw

Mary Alice

Mary Alice St. James, a retired elementary school teacher who ran against Councillor Paul Sharman who chaired the meeting at which St. James delegated.

They argued that it is Irresponsible to put public safety second when every week we hear about a new shooting, a new throwing of a chair out a building, a new prom party gone wrong, a death.

Act said it was inexplicable to see in writing that citizens should continue to do what they are doing. It is not working. “We have contended with this for over one year and we have spoken with City Staff and every Bylaw service imaginable” said Mary Alice St. James, founder of the community organization.

Inexcusable and Intolerable that nothing would be done immediately. She added.

The Mega Mansion is in ward 4, where Councillor Shawna Stolte has been working with staff to find a way to solve this problem.

Shawna quiet“We have approx. 150 known Short Term Accommodation (STA) arrangements in Burlington. Of these, the Lakeshore property is the most challenging to the surrounding community, but there are 2-3 others that are occasionally causing issues.

“I have been aware of the Lakeshore AirBnB and the neighbours concerns for the past 6 months. The property is not only being advertised as an event venue but has also been rented out almost exclusively for weddings, bachelor parties and other events.

“I have been researching the issue, meeting with residents and advocating on behalf of the neighbourhood since June of this year.

“The police are responding to the best of their ability, but have made it clear that they consider noise and nuisance complaints lower on their “response priority”. Clearly they need to respond to citizen safety and crime related calls first.

“Burlington Bylaw officers have responded repeatedly to this property when neighbours call but they do not have the same mandate or training to engage in difficult or conflictual situations. Their job is not to intervene in a situation, but to educate, advise and enforce bylaw infractions.

“The biggest challenge is that the City of Burlington does not have a Short Term Accommodation Bylaw for our Bylaw officers to actively enforce.

“I have been researching the issue, meeting with residents and advocating on behalf of the neighbourhood since June of this year. I began meeting and corresponding with our Bylaw Dept in June and it quickly became clear that their ability to deal with this particular situation would be limited due to a lack of policy (bylaw) to enforce.

“At that point I engaged our Planning and Legal Departments in an effort to explore what policy amendments we could create to deal with this, and other Short Term Accommodation issues.

“This process was complex and my ability to get all departments on board to collaborate was challenging so at Council in September I brought forth a Staff Direction that read as follows:

Direct the Director of City Building to report back to the Planning and Development Committee meeting of October 8, 2019 with options to regulate operations related to Short-Term Accommodation rentals, including immediate, medium term and long-term options.”

“The report that we received this week somewhat addressed the medium and long term goals but by no means addressed the direction to provide immediate options to address this issue.

“The Committee meeting ended with this agenda item being “referred” to Council with the expectation of staff to report back to Council on October 28 with concrete, actionable, immediate options to deal with this issue.

“I’m trying to not take over Staff’s role but I do look forward to hearing about Temporary Bylaw or Licensing options when staff report back on October 28.

“The suggestion of a Citizen Working Group was an attempt to engage those citizens most impacted by the situation, in an advisory capacity and give them the opportunity to contribute ideas and suggestions as the City moves forward to create a Short Term Accommodation Bylaw.”

There is a similar Airbnb Mega Mansion in Aldershot. It is currently advertised as the Bong Mansion.

Short-term accommodations are a new type of land use that can provide positive impacts to the community. A comprehensive assessment of issues related to short- term accommodations is required to develop the policy and regulatory tools that will best serve the Burlington community. This study is proposed to be undertaken as part of the Comprehensive Zoning By-law review study to be initiated in Q3 2020.

Council wasn’t prepared to sit on this for a year. There will be something that will be immediate at the council meeting on the 28th.

Let’s see just how this council responds to a disgusting problem in a part of the city that is used to getting what it wants.

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10 comments to Council moves to take immediate action on an Air BnB location that is inexcusable and intolerable for people in the Lakeshore Goodram part of the city.

  • Elan

    David: Councillors who show up to events for 2 minutes, enough to grab a selfie and claim they are ‘on the job’, then off to the next three events is phony baloney. ‘politically’, voters see through that. These are not ‘activities’. they are B/S self-promotion not-for-resident advantage. And these antics are not necessary if you are confident in yourself as a person truly working for your constituents. The ‘good book’ also says no B/S to self-promote (I paraphrase).

  • Carol Gottlob

    So, we have an affordable housing crisis in our community, meanwhile excessively large houses that are designed with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms sit vacant or nearly vacant. I’ve always thought they would be better suited to accommodate singles, seniors, or newcomers as communal homes, rather than party venues. If they are going to be rented out, at least rent them to people within the community who need them and won’t be disruptive.

  • Penny Hersh

    The “Climate Emergency Motion” by Councillor Nisan, in my opinion was simply a way to differentiate himself from the rest of the ‘pack”. If I am wrong I apologize. Anyone who has watched this sort of thing previously knows it was merely “symbolic”.

    Everyone jumped on Mr. Nisan’s “Burlassic Park” – cost over $76,000.00 of taxpayer money and loss of business to the local restaurant and bars for what????? That money could have been much better spent – but would not made nearly as much of a splash. Interesting what residents buy into.

    Priorities – people…..but it is interesting that Councillors feel they have to ask on Instagram whether people want ” A WEEK IN REVIEW”. This is their job – do we really have to know that they had lunch with the seniors or picked baby watermelons? This is something that is expected and they get paid to do it.

    Volunteers do this sort of thing every single day of the week. They are the silent warriors that make things happen for those that need it most. They don’t expect to be patted on the back for a job well done ( this is at their expense and at their personal time). You don’t see volunteers on Instagram stacking shelves in Food Banks, or sorting through clothes to be given to those who need it, or spending the hours needed to provide Community Dinners. They simply do what needs to be done.

    Thankfully we live in an era where we can simply UNFOLLOW on Instagram. I have the outmost respect for those councillors who quietly go about their job and don’t feel the need to post it, tweet it or Instagram it

  • Leslie

    Thanks for bringing some attention to this issue. Not sure if that last comment was meant to stir the pot but it kind of seems like we’re made out to be an entitled community. We are not. We are, however, used to getting what we don’t want:

    We do not want to clean up used drug paraphernalia, liquor bottles, human excrement, and other disgusting things, as a result of out of control Air BnB parties. But that chore falls on us.

    We do not want our privacy, loss of natural light, and enjoyment of our homes affected. Thanks to the continued allowance of massive houses in our neighbourhood, we get that anyway.

    We do not want our basements flooded due to water displacement & runoff from the construction of excessively-sized houses. But, we get flooded (multiple times).

    We do not want our mental & physical health compromised due to the stress caused by over-development around us. Yes, we get that too.

    Aren’t we a lucky bunch?

  • Judy christie


  • Elan

    On AirBNB, the record shows that after Staff presented their “we cant do anything for 3 years” response, Stolte motioned Council into closed session for almost 90 minutes. Gee, wonder what happened during that fun time?

  • Elan

    On an unrelated manner, I was a bit surprised at a vote earlier in the week to block a motion to guarantee funding for a city-wide tree by-law in the upcoming budget. The vote was 5 – 2 against guaranteeing this funding. One of the 5 Councillors voting against was Mr. ‘Climate Emergency’ Rory Nisan. I guess he feels its not really that important after all…nor did Lisa Kearns (who proceeded to show all attending a bizarre video of herself to express how much she loves the environment-wow), Paul Sharman, Kelvin Galbraith and Angelo Bentivegna. Voting for it: Mayor Meed Ward and Councillor Stolte.

  • Elan

    The way I saw it, Council’s will is not the issue. City staff doing their jobs is the issue. The direction in September was clearly made to illicit an immediate strategy for suffering residents. The City Staff response was 3 pages of history and one page of recommendations which effectively gave Council the finger. “We’ll look at it in 3 years”. Appalling response by the City staff. Hopefully Tim Commisso will respond with the appropriate attitude adjustment among his Staff to remind them the tail doesn’t wag the dog.

  • david barker

    This is a good example if a different approach to business being taken by this council as opposed to previous administration’s. Councillor Stolte is demonstrating the new approach taken by Council. Staff needs to catch up and employ the same approach. The approach staff always seem to take is to benchmark, i.e. find out what other municipalities are doing and then do something in the middle. Burlington needs to be proactive, be brave, and take the bull by the horns, then quickly come to its own conclusion.

    I have only had direct interactions with Mayor Meed Ward and Councillors Kerns and Stolte. I am very impressed by each’s “Action Woman” approach.

  • Stephen White

    I drove by this house one evening last week around 10:30 p.m.. You would have thought it was Front Street in downtown Toronto on a summer afternoon. There must have been a dozen cars parked in and around the property, all high end and expensive vehicles, with people partying inside and outside and the place lit up like a Christmas tree. Ridiculous! It is unfair to area residents and does not conform with existing by-laws. Shut it down!

    This isn’t the only property that is suspect. There are several others along Lakeshore Road in Ward s4 and 5 that should also be investigated. These are massive homes, and several look like no one is living there permanently, but on odd occasions there is a flurry of activity. Highly suspicious.