I’d like to share some thoughts regarding unlicensed short-term rentals and the decision to triple the 2020 licence fees for bed and breakfasts.
I appreciate the concerns expressed by the lord mayor and found her description of the “hollowing out” of our neighbourhoods to be very fitting.
When we bought our property 25 years ago, it was a career choice with the intention of long-term investment, not just financially but in close relationships within our neighbours. We have owned and operated our B&B, Applewood Hollow, for 21 years. We take seriously the opportunity to promote local agriculture with every breakfast we serve.
B&B owners are front-line ambassadors for all this area has to offer. Our purpose is about actively creating human connection in ways that educate, enrich the visitors’ experience and encourage them to return because of the relationship formed.
I believe B&Bs should not be classified the same as short-term rental units that are not owner-occupied.
Around 2000, a bylaw was passed that anyone renovating or building for the purpose of using it as a B&B, would have to use it for four years personally before they could apply. Why are short-term rentals of vacant houses or apartments able to circumvent this bylaw?
Owner-occupied B&Bs compliant with Town regulations are not responsible for the “hollowing out” of our neighbourhoods.
Taking legal action against unlicensed businesses is prohibitively expensive for the Town, with the resulting fines going to the Province instead of the affected municipalities. Is there a better way? Here’s a few suggestions to consider:
1. Recognition of two different categories, B&B applications versus short-term rentals of apartments or houses;
2. Identification of rental homes and apartments on the street similar to the signs from the Town that B&Bs use;
3. Property owners of illegal businesses receive an invoice and appropriate application from the Town. It would be time-sensitive, with notice of intent to pursue legal action if their operation is continued.
It is important to understand that Airbnb has taken on a life of its own and is not just another brand or marketing tool, as many would suggest. Multinational corporations such as Airbnb answer to their investors and stakeholders for short sighted profits. The number of cities around the world that no longer have affordable housing for their own residents is growing exponentially because of the commodification of residential areas.
They do not require members to adhere to local bylaws. Airbnb has steadfastly refused to communicate with municipalities regarding their flagrant disregard of these issues. The resulting growth of illegal operations to show a quick profit demands that the rest of the community bear the costs to a healthy, functioning town.
We look forward to solving these issues together, in a way that encourages healthy relationships in welcoming, caring neighbourhoods.