Jayne McCaw specializes in renting luxury properties in some of the most upscale and desirable locations in Ontario.

Her company, Jayne’s Luxury Rentals, has properties available on Lake Joseph, Lake Muskoka, Lake Rosseau, Georgian Bay and a number of other popular destinations.

She also has rentals available in Oro-Medonte Township, right on Lake Simcoe.

One of them, an eight-bedroom, seven-bathroom mansion located in Shanty Bay, just north of Barrie, was used to film the television show MILF Manor last September. 

The episode aired on The Learning Channel (TLC) a few weeks ago and has since reignited the issue of short-term rentals in the township.

“There are no short-term rental restrictions in Oro-Medonte anymore,” McCaw said. “The production company rented the property without incident for 26 nights.”

McCaw says she’s been following the short-term rental issue in Oro-Medonte with great interest.

BarrieToday asked McCaw if she was advised by township officials that short-term rentals (STRs) are legal in Oro-Medonte.

“No one told me. I followed the case closely as these decisions also could have implications on rentals in other areas that I operate in,” she said.

On March 22, the Township of Oro-Medonte and the Oro-Medonte Good Neighbours’ Alliance’s appeal of an Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) decision regarding short-term rental accommodations in the township was dismissed.

In its ruling, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice said it dismissed the appeal because: 

  • there was no procedural unfairness
  • the OLT was correct in its interpretation of the existing zoning bylaw and made no error in law in finding By-law 2020-073 did not represent good planning. 

At the time, Barry Sookman, president of the Oro-Medonte Association for Responsible STRs, told BarrieToday that “the association is pleased with the result and hopes it will put to rest all litigation with the township over STRs.”

The house where MILF Manor was shot is listed on Vrbo, a property rental website. It’s available for daily, weekly or monthly rentals.

Seeking clarity, BarrieToday sent a link for the listing to Oro-Medonte officials with a direct question: Is it an illegal short-term rental? Yes or no.

“The township is not in a position to comment regarding the status of the property referenced in the Vrbo link you have provided,” said Jenny Leggett, Oro-Medonte’s manager of communications and public relations. “I know you are already aware of this, but please refer to the township’s website for recent information pertaining to short-term rentals accommodation.”

Leggett provided this link.

The full text of the township’s update reads:

“Although the recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice Divisional Court decision did not support the township’s appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal’s (OLT) 2023 decision, this concludes the approach undertaken by township council in 2020 in an effort to address challenges associated with short-term accommodations in the township.

Moving forward, township council and staff will continue to utilize established bylaws and regulations to provide safe and respectful neighbourhoods for Oro-Medonte residents.

The township maintains its position regarding short-term rental accommodations in Oro-Medonte. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice Divisional Court decision is complex, and focused on specific areas of law, and is currently being reviewed to assist with next steps. To view the decision, please see Ontario Superior Court of Justice Divisional Court decision.”

David Johnston, a spokesman for the Oro-Medonte Good Neighbours’ Alliance, said the property where MILF Manor was filmed is in a neighbourhood that is zoned residential.  

“That means, according to the township’s 1997 bylaw, it is permitted for residential use only,” meaning owner-occupied or rented as a dwelling, Johnston told BarrieToday in an email. “So what they are doing is a commercial activity that is not permitted in a residential zone.

“And here is the key point in zoning bylaw interpretation: that which is not expressly permitted is not permitted,” he added.  

Johnston said he wasn’t sure, but suggested there may be a provision somewhere in the township’s bylaws that lets a homeowner use their residential property as a temporary commercial film production site.

Township officials say there was no such language.

“There are no provisions in any township bylaws that allows a homeowner to use their residential property as a temporary commercial film production site,” Leggett said.

BarrieToday also asked the township if it would pursue legal action against the owner of the property that was used in MILF Manor, as it clearly shows a residential property being used as a temporary film production site.

“The township does not disclose information pertaining to legal proceedings of any nature,” Leggett said.

By Wayne Doyle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 02, 2024 at 14:20

This item reprinted with permission from   BarrieToday   Barrie, Ontario

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