By Chad Ingram
Last week, Haliburton County councillors agreed that when it comes to the creation of regulations or a licensing system for short-term rentals in the county, that discussion should take place at the county level, with a consistent policy being applied across the county’s four, lower-tier municipalities.
And they’re right. It’s only logical, and the same methodology could and should be applied to a host of policies.
When it comes to the matter of regulating and licensing short-term rentals, each of the four lower-tier councils have had discussions surrounding such during the past few years. It’s clear all four municipalities are interested in creating that kind of policy, and so it only makes sense that if one is going to be created, that it be uniform across the county. This will avoid confusion for cottage owners and renters, especially given that a number of lakes in the county straddle municipal borders, and that a number of residents own properties in more than one township.
Not to become the proverbial broken record, but as I’ve written numerous times in this space, if there is not going to be single-tier governance in Haliburton County, then there should be collaborative, consistent and uniform policy and shared work across the board in as many areas as possible. While there is disagreement about how much money this might ultimately save, it’s undeniable that it would make life easier for residents. One set of rules, for everybody.
This is beginning to happen more and more. When it comes to the controversial subject of a shoreline preservation bylaw, the four lower tiers formally delegated their authority to the county on the matter, and last week, the county hired the environmental consulting firm that will be responsible for research, public consultation and ultimately, the creation of a new draft bylaw.
The townships are also beginning to share IT resources more frequently – all four now are now using the Waste Wizard app, for example, which helps residents to properly sort their waste and recycling, with the goal of elongating the lifespan of municipal landfills. Recently, the clerks of the four townships also met to discuss voting methods for the 2022 municipal elections, taking consistent recommendations back to their respective councils.
The service delivery review the county had conducted for itself and its lower tiers emphasized enhanced collaboration, consistent policy and centralized work, over and over again, and it would appear that things are beginning to move in that direction.
Recently, some municipal councils have begun discussing possible regulations or licensing programs for private docks on public lands, and this is another area where a uniform approach across the county only makes sense.
Haliburton County is one community. It may encompass some 4,000 square kilometres, but it is one community. It may include four municipalities that are themselves amalgams of former, smaller municipalities, but it is one community. One community should have one set of rules.