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Feb. 21, 2020 | Friday
Editorials and Opinions
Letter: Live-in B&Bs and short-term rentals need to be treated differently
(File photo/Dariya Baiguzhiyeva)

Dear editor: 

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 Lord Mayor Betty Disero 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 for 21 years. We take seriously the opportunity to promote local agriculture with every breakfast we serve.

Bed and breakfast owners are front-line ambassadors for all that this area has to offer. Our purpose is about actively creating human connection in ways that educate, enrich the visitors’ experience and encourages them to return because of the relationship formed.

I believe that bed and breakfasts 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 bed and breakfasts 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 are a few suggestions to consider:

Recognition of two different categories – B&B applications vs. short-term rentals of apartments or houses.

Identification of rental homes/apartments on the street similar to the signs that B&Bs use.

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 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 like 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 its 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 of a healthy, functioning town.

We look forward to solving these issues together in a way that encourages healthy relationships in welcoming, caring neighbourhoods.

Sincerely,

Jane Andres

NOTL

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