BRA Year End Newsletter – 2023
Seasons Greetings from the Bayfield Ratepayers Association (BRA).
Welcome to our year end update. There are a number of issues affecting Bayfield and your BRA is actively monitoring and working to represent your interests.
As of November, there had been 211 applications for STRs in Bluewater, 70 in Bayfield, 53 in Stanley West, 85 in Hay West ( both of these shoreline wards), 2 in Zurich and 1 in Stanley East.
At the November 6, 2023 Council meeting Tyler Bartelen, a London real estate agent, made a presentation to Council requesting they modify the current STR By-law and remove the 15% limit of STRs per street. The BRA was against such a modification and at that meeting made a presentation against the proposed change. A summary of that presentation is below.
“Council has collectively developed a sound Short Term Rental bylaw and we need to stick with it. The current STR by-law strikes a balance between rental accommodation to promote tourism and its associated economic benefits and a healthy, sustainable community year round.
Thriving communities are built on permanent residents living there. A village of rentals, while it may thrive in the summer, will be empty in the off season resulting in some stores closing and limited restaurants open in the off season.
· With an increased number of STRs, many of which will have absentee landlords, there will be many homes sitting empty in the off season increasing the likelihood of more crime. Controlling the number of short-term rentals, ensures that long-term residents of Bluewater can enjoy a more stable and familiar neighbourhood, fostering a sense of community and security. .
· In Bluewater, as across Canada, there is a growing need for more permanent accommodation. An increase of STRs reduces homes available for permanent residents, lower cost housing and affordable long-term rentals. A prime example of this already exists in Bayfield where most of the workers in the stores and restaurants cannot find affordable accommodation locally. Eliminating the 15% limit will make this worse.
· Thriving communities with a growing number of permanent residents will support more local services such as healthcare, additional businesses and recreational services which are good for all.
· An increased number of STRs will result in more property owners who do not live in the community. Absentee landlords do not care about important local issues such as community support, preserving trees, parkland and local environmental concerns.
· Increased STRs on a street will reduce the value of the non STR homes as people do not want to live next to a rental.
· Removing the 15% limit will result in less permanent residents reducing the base for volunteers which Bluewater thrives on.
· The 15% street limit helps maintain the unique charm of the Bluewater communities, ensuring that their character is not overshadowed by a greater influx of short-term rentals.
In summary, removing the 15% limit on STRs per street will be a detriment to the communities of Bluewater resulting in a long term negative economic impact, an increased likelihood of crime, less homes to meet the demand for lower cost accommodation, less attention to environmental issues, a reduced volunteer base, and a reduction in the value of many homes in Bluewater.
We urge you all to reject the proposal to eliminate the 15% limit on STRs per street, maintain the current needed balance between permanent residents and Short Term Rentals and support vibrant communities for all versus financial gain for a few.”
As a result of the opposition to the proposed change, Council rejected any change at this time. They plan to review the STR By-law in the spring when they have more information. The BRA will continue to monitor this STR issue and lobby to ensure negative changes are not made to the by-law.
On November 6th, 2023, Council passed By-laws to bring into effect the changes from the approved Bayfield Secondary Plan to the Official Plan and Zoning By-law. The Secondary Plan as approved by Council in February 2023 has now been amended. The changes include:
· Removed the proposed Core Commercial designations from 1 Jane Street and 11 Main Street south
· Removed Holding Zone from Lot 1 of Plan 618 which now fronts onto Deer Ridge Lane
· Revisited proposed zoning for 2 Sarnia Street and 5 and 7 Mill Road, commercial storage units will be permitted on the property apart from along the most visible frontage (Mill Road). A 20 metre setback from Mill Road will be required for the commercial storage use; other uses permitted within the C3 zone can utilize this frontage
A proposal had been made to delay the expansion of the Highway Commercial designation along Mill Road until the Mill Road / Highway 21 intersection had been fixed. The proposed delay was rejected and the expansion of the Highway Commercial designation for the properties along Mill Road around the water tower and across from it was approved.
Subsequently, the Bayfield Secondary Plan and the resulting By-law changes were approved at the Huron County Council meeting, December 6, 2023 bringing them into law.
The Municipality of Bluewater has worked with a consultant to develop a strategic plan for council. The main goals of the strategic plan are as follows:
1. One Bluewater Asset Management Plan
Complete a O. Reg 588/17 compliant Asset Management Plan that embraces a “One Bluewater” approach to asset/facilities consolidation (where appropriate)
2. Multi-year Roads Sustainability Plan
Create a Roads Sustainability multi-year business plan that incorporates targeted levels of proactive surface maintenance hours/$ funding as well as required capital upgrades to maintain Pavement Quality scores
3. User Pay Cost Recovery
Execute a 2-phase cost recovery improvement project to update user fees and reduce the property tax base burden for Bluewater services appropriately funded by user or applicants receiving benefit
4. Annual Budget Transformed by Results Targets and Reporting
Transform Bluewater’s annual budget cycle by introducing service delivery RESULTS TARGETS and Key Performance Indicator (KPI) RESULTS REPORTING.
5. “State of the Infrastructure” Annual Report
Deliver “State of the Infrastructure” annual reporting to Council to track progress in reducing unfunded liabilities identified in the Asset Management Plan and maintain momentum around identified asset/facility divestiture commitments
6. Fire Master Plan & Station Location review
Execute a Fire Master Plan & Station Location Review to modernize Bluewater’s current fire & emergency services delivery model
7. Council Composition / Ward Boundary Review
Design and execute a Council Composition/Ward Boundary Review emphasizing robust community consultation and expert technical analysis.
8. Initiate Formal Shared Services Program
Initiate a formal/ongoing Shared Services program with neighbouring municipal partners
9. Growth-Focused Development Strategy
Prepare and execute a growth-focused development strategy that is Bluewater-wide in scope; addressing servicing capacity constraints that exist in some communities and shortages of developable land in others
The top three priorities are number 1, 6 and 7 which they plan to start work on in 2024 and complete by mid-2025. Your BRA will continue to actively monitor progress on these items lobbying your positions on items as appropriate.
We wish you and your families a Happy, Healthy and Safe Holiday Season and look forward to representing your interests on the ongoing issues impacting Bayfield.
We would like to thank all of our members for their ongoing support.
If you are not already a BRA member, we encourage you to join at our website membership page and become part of supporting how your tax dollars are spent.
All the best for the Holidays!
President, Bayfield Ratepayers Association