Short-Term Accommodations

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Looking to apply for your Short-Term Accommodation Business License? Visit https://www.sarnia.ca/short-term-accommodations/ and follow the steps below.

Step 1: Download the application form and accompanying guide for a Short Term Accommodation Business License.

Step 2: Fill in the form, provide payment for the license application, and submit the required information for review.

Step 3: The application form will be reviewed and staff will contact you with any questions, points of clarity and to arrange a fire inspection.

NOTE: Should the property and/or operation not meet the requirements of the Bed & Breakfast Zoning Standards, applicants will be required to make revisions and/or seek relief through a Planning Act application.

Step 4: Once compliance has been achieved with the requirements and the fire inspection has been passed, Customer Service will issue the Short Term Accommodation Business Licence.

Step 5: Register for the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT), by completing the form at https://www.sarnia.ca/municipal-accommodation-tax-mat/.

Displaying Your License in a place visible from, or as near as possible to, the main entrance of the short-term accommodation.


In accordance with Bill 189 and Ontario Regulation 149/20, Notices of Decisions for Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments given on or after February 26, 2020 and before April 15, 2020 are deemed not to have been completed.

Given that the Notices of the Decision for the passing of Zoning Amendment By-law 26 of 2020 was given during this period, the City of Sarnia is now re-issuing the following Notice in accordance with Ontario Regulation 278/20. The last day of appeal for the zoning changes is July 15, 2020.


Emergency Declaration

Impact on Appeal Timelines:

With the province of Ontario issuing an emergency declaration on March 17, 2020, the time for the filing of appeals against the Short-Term Accommodation standards has been temporarily suspended.

What this means is that the original deadline to file an appeal, which was Wednesday April 1, 2020, has now been extended to a date that can only be determined when the emergency order is lifted by the province.

The calculation for the new date is based on the number of days that were impacted by the emergency order. In this case, there were 15 days that were impacted by the emergency order - from March 17, 2020 to April 1, 2020.

As such, the new final date for other parties to register an appeal against the Short-Term Accommodation standards will be 15 days after the day the emergency order is lifted by the province.

We will update this site after the Emergency Order is lifted.

Stay safe – stay home.

Please note that all public information sessions have been cancelled.

The public information sessions originally planned for Thursday, March 19th and Tuesday, March 24th from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. have been cancelled until further notice, as part of the coordinated municipal and County response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please view the media release for further information.

Although the information sessions have been cancelled, staff are available to speak to you if you have any questions. Please call 519-332-0330 extension 3344 or e-mail planning@sarnia.ca to schedule a teleconference.


The City has approved amendments to the Zoning By-law to replace existing bed and breakfast establishment regulations with new regulations for short-term rental accommodations. This includes many of the listings on 'Airbnb' and 'homeaway' where rooms or an entire dwelling are made available for rent for less than 30 days.


The following regulations were approved for short-term accommodations in the City's Zoning By-law:

1.New definition for Short-term Rental

"Short-term Rental” means all or part of a dwelling unit that is used to provide sleeping accommodations for any rental period that is less than 30 consecutive days."

2. Guest Rooms

A maximum of three guest rooms may be made available for Short-Term Rental accommodations.

3. Parking

A minimum of one parking space shall be provided for every guest room in a Short-Term Rental, in addition to the minimum parking requirements for the dwelling unit.

4. Operator

Short-term accommodations shall only be operated by the principal resident of the dwelling. However, they are allowed in dwellings that are not prorated by the principal resident of the property, if the STA was operating prior to January 1, 2020 and if a licence is issued prior to July 1, 2020.


The approved by-laws are available to view in the "Document Library" section of this page.

Looking to apply for your Short-Term Accommodation Business License? Visit https://www.sarnia.ca/short-term-accommodations/ and follow the steps below.

Step 1: Download the application form and accompanying guide for a Short Term Accommodation Business License.

Step 2: Fill in the form, provide payment for the license application, and submit the required information for review.

Step 3: The application form will be reviewed and staff will contact you with any questions, points of clarity and to arrange a fire inspection.

NOTE: Should the property and/or operation not meet the requirements of the Bed & Breakfast Zoning Standards, applicants will be required to make revisions and/or seek relief through a Planning Act application.

Step 4: Once compliance has been achieved with the requirements and the fire inspection has been passed, Customer Service will issue the Short Term Accommodation Business Licence.

Step 5: Register for the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT), by completing the form at https://www.sarnia.ca/municipal-accommodation-tax-mat/.

Displaying Your License in a place visible from, or as near as possible to, the main entrance of the short-term accommodation.


In accordance with Bill 189 and Ontario Regulation 149/20, Notices of Decisions for Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments given on or after February 26, 2020 and before April 15, 2020 are deemed not to have been completed.

Given that the Notices of the Decision for the passing of Zoning Amendment By-law 26 of 2020 was given during this period, the City of Sarnia is now re-issuing the following Notice in accordance with Ontario Regulation 278/20. The last day of appeal for the zoning changes is July 15, 2020.


Emergency Declaration

Impact on Appeal Timelines:

With the province of Ontario issuing an emergency declaration on March 17, 2020, the time for the filing of appeals against the Short-Term Accommodation standards has been temporarily suspended.

What this means is that the original deadline to file an appeal, which was Wednesday April 1, 2020, has now been extended to a date that can only be determined when the emergency order is lifted by the province.

The calculation for the new date is based on the number of days that were impacted by the emergency order. In this case, there were 15 days that were impacted by the emergency order - from March 17, 2020 to April 1, 2020.

As such, the new final date for other parties to register an appeal against the Short-Term Accommodation standards will be 15 days after the day the emergency order is lifted by the province.

We will update this site after the Emergency Order is lifted.

Stay safe – stay home.

Please note that all public information sessions have been cancelled.

The public information sessions originally planned for Thursday, March 19th and Tuesday, March 24th from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. have been cancelled until further notice, as part of the coordinated municipal and County response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please view the media release for further information.

Although the information sessions have been cancelled, staff are available to speak to you if you have any questions. Please call 519-332-0330 extension 3344 or e-mail planning@sarnia.ca to schedule a teleconference.


The City has approved amendments to the Zoning By-law to replace existing bed and breakfast establishment regulations with new regulations for short-term rental accommodations. This includes many of the listings on 'Airbnb' and 'homeaway' where rooms or an entire dwelling are made available for rent for less than 30 days.


The following regulations were approved for short-term accommodations in the City's Zoning By-law:

1.New definition for Short-term Rental

"Short-term Rental” means all or part of a dwelling unit that is used to provide sleeping accommodations for any rental period that is less than 30 consecutive days."

2. Guest Rooms

A maximum of three guest rooms may be made available for Short-Term Rental accommodations.

3. Parking

A minimum of one parking space shall be provided for every guest room in a Short-Term Rental, in addition to the minimum parking requirements for the dwelling unit.

4. Operator

Short-term accommodations shall only be operated by the principal resident of the dwelling. However, they are allowed in dwellings that are not prorated by the principal resident of the property, if the STA was operating prior to January 1, 2020 and if a licence is issued prior to July 1, 2020.


The approved by-laws are available to view in the "Document Library" section of this page.

Guest Book

Let us know what you think about the proposed amendments by signing the Guestbook.
CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

What is the data and factual evidence that indicates that these by-laws are needed in Sarnia? Or, Is it fear of the new/unknown, nimby-ism, or a reaction to big city problems publicized in the media? Or it is competition trying to keep out what is now an accepted and expected option for travellers? Sarnia NEEDS the business that STRs can bring. Why would you penalize entrepreneurs with overly aggressive and restrictive costs and by-laws? These will just drive them out of business or push them underground. Further, Do you really want to be in the business of investigating, chasing people and trying to enforce these by-laws? I don’t have an STR, and I don’t intend to have one in the future, so I have no dog in this fight. But I have travelled extensively, and used STRs in The US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. I will continue to use both STRs (entire place, not just a room) and hotels to suit my needs. I have happily stayed in places where the only parking is street parking (contrary to popular opinion, Sarnia does not have a parking problem, it has a mentality problem), places with 1 or several bedrooms (depending on if we are meeting friends and/or taking family). Recently my daughter stayed in a 6 bedroom house that was booked for the wedding party who all had to travel to be at the location - it was exactly what they needed, no problems came up, and they didn’t trash the place or have a big party there! I suspect 99% of the STRs in Sarnia operate in a similarly successful fashion.I applaud looking at how other cities do things, but in this case we aren’t Windsor, or Toronto, etc. We need to attract business, and increase the economic base (let people make an honest buck!), not stifle it with ridiculous by-laws. If a pervasive problem comes up, deal with that - don’t start from negative assumptions.

Fairja 7 months ago

I disagree wholeheartedly with the proposed regulations regarding short-term rentals.I have recently relocated to Bright’s Grove after spending many years travelling to Sarnia for work in the oil industry. Travelling across the country in search of short term has allowed me to provide a unique “outsiders perspective” on the short-term rental industry in Sarnia.Despite a large portion of Sarnia’s economy being driven by oil and gas, the city is consistently one of the most difficult places to find short-term accommodations. The motels are overflowing in spring and fall every year and workers are forced to find creative ways to house themselves. Some choose to cram 4 people into a motel room, others sleep in their vehicle, renting shower facilities from local fitness centres. Many decide to leave Sarnia and are forced to commute to/from neighbouring communities. The city of Sarnia should be embracing these workers and creating legislation which will allow them to stay in Sarnia and spend a portion of their paycheques on local businesses. The proposed regulations will do nothing but hinder the supply of short term housing.In addition to oil and gas, Sarnia has another unique economic engine that isn’t reaching its full potential, Lake Huron. Sarnia has access to a beautiful portion of Lake Huron. Not everyone is wealthy enough to be able to afford a vacation home. Through the use of sites like AirBnB, a cottage or vacation home, like the many available in Bright’s Grove, now becomes a reality. The cities proposed legislation requiring the owner to be the principal resident of the building eliminates an entire cottage industry in a cottage town! Follow the Lake from Sarnia to Tobermory and you will find entire communities that are able to thrive as a result of the short-term rental industry. Many people wishing to own a cottage or second home in the area with the long-term goal of retiring at the lake will no longer be able to do so.In addition to the city requiring short-term housing owners to be principal residents, they are also discussing adding a 4% tax payable to the city. A 4% tax which will be in addition to the property tax payable to the city and personal income tax, a portion of which heads back to the city. With the spiking real-estate market, this 4% could be the difference between a profitable, cash-positive investment and not. In short, it could be the difference between a seller selling and a buyer buying. What the city of Sarnia is failing to recognize is that the city will actually reap the benefits of a thriving short-term rental industry without implementing the tax. Well paid workers and happy tourist families spend money on local businesses! Far more than your average long-term renter or home-owner. Additionally, these short-term home owners are often forced to spend more money than the average homeowner on renovations, furniture, cleaners, etc. (ie more local businesses)Knowing this, why would the City of Sarnia wish to alienate prospective cottage owners, real-estate investors, short-term workers, tourists AND local businesses?Two reasons, the first being greed. The 4% “tourism tax” will look excellent on a balance sheet. What the city fails to realize is that the hidden numbers from a thriving short-term rental industry (additional money spent locally) will far outweigh the money accrued from taking 4% profits from a nonexistent industry. The second, and possibly the most relevant reason is angry community members who have loud opinions on short-term housing. These community members often complain their “quality of life” has been negatively affected by short-term housing, often citing a myriad of complaints including but not limited to: noise, lack of parking, loss of community, safety fears and increased traffic.It is an unfortunate truth in today’s world that the vocal, complaining minority seems to trump the silent majority. The majority of people don’t complain that their property values have risen because a neighbor has renovated. Nobody gripes that they’ve met some really nice people travelling through. They won’t protest when their own businesses are thriving by the extra dollars being spent in the city. Nobody minds when a new restaurant opens up to take advantage of growing tourism, or when they can rent paddleboards on the beach. Everyone will cheer an announcement of a new Oil and Gas project in the area but they won’t realize that it may have been made possible due to a surplus of worker infrastructure. A new project, like the ongoing project was deemed financially viable in part because they didn’t have to spend millions building worker camps.Please, for all of the logical reasons stated above, do not pass the short-term housing regulations to satisfy a small group of malcontents. Please remember that a 4% tax of an empty industry equates to zero dollars for the city. A large chunk of Sarnia’s economy- Tourism, Small Businesses and the Oil Industry will suffer as a result of these regulations.

Kylepetronski 10 months ago

Planners and local communities are empowered to "flip the script" on the short term rental conversation. Responsible hosts and community leaders have opportunity to collaborate on how our communities can reap the many benefits of short term rentals while at the same time ensuring that everyone acts in a responsible and neighbourly way. The regulatory and enforcement practices have been drafted, yet there is room to be inclusive (non-discriminatory) in their application. Let’s collaborate and evolve these practices further to come up with short-term rental policies that can and will actually work.What might be your thoughts on providing education/information on the benefits of short term rentals to not only city councillors but also include general public? For us specifically, the concern is with the municipalities not supporting "whole house" rentals that is NOT the primary resident of owners. This is discriminatory against both the property owners and travellers alike. 1. Not all groups (hosts or travellers) wish to share their spaces and it speaks to the point of privacy (and personal safety) for both parties. 2. Travellers and their needs are becoming as diverse as their destinations. There is a lid for every pot - as they saying goes... and home shares or traditional accommodations (like that of hotels) are not always the right fit for a particular group. (Will post more on this point later) 3. The environment provided in whole house rentals support a more collaborative experience for groups, co workers, or family as well as significant cost savings. 4. Limiting property owners "use of property" is again discriminatory and is a gross overstep. Quite frankly, a slippery slope of precedent. NOTE: This is something to keep a watchful eye upon in upcoming months as this factor will likely be reintroduced to governments. 5. Should the municipalities move forward with the regulations as proposed, it would be a 100% lack of support from the City of Sarnia to encourage local business owners supporting other local business owners.6. Property owners/hosts are contributing to local employment through service contracts, maintenance teams and cleaning teams (just to name a few) 7. It should also be mentioned that there is not sufficient nor accurate data to support that whole house rentals (if not permitted under future regulation) brings these homes back into the fold of long term housing and the theory that this will now provide "affordable housing" is unfounded. (Affordable housing is a topic unto itself that will require massive collaboration to work towards solution) 7a. Has the recently passed tax entered into this conversation of affordable housing? Is it even a little bit possible that the funds generated from this new tax, be in at least a small part allocated to social programs or even be potential "seed" funds to construct new (or retrofit pre-existing underutilized spaces) to support a long term project to assist in this ever growing need. Admittedly, it may not solve the problem and collaboration with planning, zoning, permitting teams would be required... however, it does have great potential to springboard a positive ACTION item towards sustainability and investment in our at risk community members. Just a few thoughts to marinate in for a bit... I look forward to drafting a formal letter to request deferment of decisions on this regulations until a more balanced and informed decision could be truly assessed. The significance of these decisions are not taken lightly by operators as it greatly impacts our local businesses and travellers to our diverse community and the industries it supports. Thanks for listening, Lisa MaolaPs... I am in full support of a tax that benefits our local community and the persons within.

Lisa Maola 10 months ago