Short Term Rental Accommodations

The Municipality of Lambton Shores is initiating a public consultation and review of short term rentals (STRs) to investigate the impact of STRs and identify public opinion regarding licensing and regulatory options.

The purpose of this consultation is to identify both the positive and negative impacts of STRs within Lambton Shores and gather the information required to make an informed decision on Short Term Rental Licensing and Zoning Regulation options.

Phase 1: Staff to prepare a report on licensing and regulating short-term rentals (Complete: see Report CL 03-2021)

Phase 2: Seek public input on short-term rentals in Lambton Shores

Phase 3: Collect, analyze, and present findings to Council in a staff report

To learn more about the STR process, please refer to the FAQs and Documents available on this page.

Public Consultation

Public consultation for gathering feedback on short term rental accommodations includes:

  • Lambton Shores STR Public Survey (the survey is now closed)
  • Stakeholder meetings
  • Online Public Information Centre
  • Direct Mail to Short Term Rental Property Owners
Relevant Documents 
Council Resolutions

The following resolution was passed at Council's February 9, 2021 meeting:

THAT Report CL 03-2021 regarding "Short Term Rental Licensing" be received; and

THAT staff be directed to develop a consultation process in order to identify issues which could be addressed by a short term rental regulatory program.

Staff Reports 
Report CL 03-2021 Short Term Rental Licensing 
Existing By-Laws

Although there are currently no by-laws or regulations to specifically address STRs in Lambton Shores, there are a number of other by-laws that can help address some common challenges associated with short term rental (STR) properties.  

If you have a by-law complaint, please use the Report It function (below) or call 519-243-1400 ext. 8413 or
519-238-5246 (seasonal number).


Frequently Asked  Questions
What is considered a Short Term Rental (STR)? 

Short term rentals (STR) are generally defined as rentals taking place for a period of 29 days or less that fall outside of the traditional commercial accommodations such as hotels, motels, and bed and breakfast establishments. STRs occur in various forms of residential dwellings such as single-detached dwellings, semi-detached, or apartments. In Lambton Shores, many second home and cottage properties are used as a STR. 

A STR can generally occur in several distinguishable ways, including:

  • Operator’s Residence and Operator Present: a property owner rents one or more bedrooms in the dwelling while present in the dwelling. These are traditionally known as bed and breakfast establishments.
  • Operator’s Residence and Operator Not Present: a property owner rents the entire dwelling while the dwelling is not being used but does use the dwelling themselves. This would be similar to a traditional cottage rental when the owner may rent their cottage periodically when not using to assist with paying the “carrying costs” of the cottage.
  • Not Operator’s Residence and Operator Not Present: A property owner may purchase a property, with no intention of residing or using the property, but rather rents it out as a STR to generate income.
  • Multiple Dwelling Units: a property has additional dwelling units within the main building and/or detached structures and rents out one or more of the units as a STR, possibly residing in one of the units or not.
  • Some STR operators may offer the entire dwelling unit to a single STR tenant, while others may rent STRs on a room by room basis.
How many STRs are in Lambton Shores? 

The exact number of STRs within the Municipality of Lambton Shores is unknown. Information provided by Tourism Sarnia-Lambton suggests there are approximately 235 unique STRs throughout Lambton Shores. However, given all forums available for the private marketing of rental units, indications suggest that the number of STRs available for rental in the area is higher. 

Are both the positive and negative impacts of STRs being considered? 

The purpose of this consultation is to engage the public to help identify both the positive and negative impacts of STRs within Lambton Shores.

Although the public consultation to identify specific issues related to Lambton Shores is currently underway, there are generally recognized benefits from STRs, including:

  • Increased accommodation options for visitors.
  • Additional income for property owners; and
  • Increased capacity for visitors, especially during peak times to benefit tourism initiatives.

Generally speaking, there are also possible negative impacts of STRs, including:

  • Environmental (such as exceeding capacity of approved sewage/septic).
  • Parking issues and increased noise complaints.
  • Building code and fire code concerns.
  • Housing affordability.
  • Neighbourhoods with few permanent residents and lack of a sense of community.
  • Changes in municipal services needed; and
  • Perceived unfair competition with existing traditional accommodation providers (e.g., motels, hotels).

Through this public consultation process, staff will gather community feedback and compile a report for Council regarding an informed decision on Short Term Rental Licensing and zoning regulation options.

What are the existing zoning regulations? 

The current by-law contains a definition and zone provisions for “Bed and Breakfast Establishments”. Otherwise, the Zoning By-Law contains no provisions or definitions that would distinguish a dwelling unit used for STR from any other.

Under the current Zoning By-Law, a legally established private dwelling unit may be offered as a STR. As a caveat, it should be noted that this only applies to the rental of the entire dwelling unit as one single STR. A dwelling unit is defined as being a separate unit with at least two rooms and its own kitchen and washroom facilities. Any dwelling that is rented out on a room-by-room basis (e.g., common entrance, living space, washroom, or kitchen facilities) would not be functioning as a dwelling unit.

Private dwelling units offered as STRs on a room-by-room basis would be a zoning violation in residential zones with two exceptions. First, boarding houses that were already legally established when the zoning by-law was adopted in 2001 are permitted in the R4 Zone – e.g., the residential area of Grand Bend generally west of Ontario Street and north of Parkhill Creek.

Second, Bed and Breakfast Establishments (B&B) are permitted in almost every residential zone that permits a single detached dwelling. The Zoning By-Law defines a B&B as a home occupation within a single detached dwelling where as many as three guest rooms are offered as temporary accommodations. Section 3.10.2 of the Zoning By-Law addresses parking requirements, signage, and guest room sizes, and requires that a B&B be operated by a resident of the dwelling. 

What are other areas doing to regulate STRs? 

Although the regulation of STRs is relatively new in Ontario, there are several other jurisdictions that have implemented by-law changes and zoning regulations. 

Licensing programs are a common tool for regulating short term rentals. This approach provides the opportunity to address the impacts of STRs by balancing the needs of property owners with potential land use impacts and the needs of visitors looking for safe, adequate and properly maintained short-term accommodation premises.  Furthermore, licensing facilitates any actions required for compliance and enforcement. There are numerous recent examples of municipalities that have implemented a STR licensing program.  It is important to note that while some elements of each licensing program can be broadly applied to any municipality, there are unique aspects of each program that are relevant only to that community. In other words, there is no “one size fits all” approach to STR licensing and regulations.

Another consideration to regulation is through updated Zoning Regulations for Short Term Rentals. Some jurisdictions have a licensing program and/or zoning provisions that require ongoing license renewal, require ongoing compliance with various standards, set parking and landscaping standards, limit the number of STRs in the municipality, control their density through minimum separation requirements between STRs, limit them to certain zone designations, or impose setbacks from certain land uses.

Licensing programs and zoning regulations are often considered simultaneously. Some regulations that may be deemed useful or necessary with respect to STRs may not be feasible to implement and/or enforce in the absence of a licensing system.

What alternatives are being considered? 

There are several options for council to consider with respect to short term rentals in the municipality. Three options are included in the attached Report CL 03-2021

These options include:

  • No changes to current process (no licensing program or zoning regulations)
  • Changes to zoning regulations and/or Official Plan
  • Changes to zoning regulations/Official Plan and Licensing program

Prior to selecting an option, Council has directed staff to collect public opinion through public consultation. 


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