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Sep. 22, 2020 | Tuesday
Editorials and Opinions
Letter: Short-term rentals help families experience NOTL

Dear editor:

There has been some talk in the news and letters of late about the problems that short-term rentals bring to the town. In fact, it's mostly unlicensed short-term rentals that are the problem and more enforceable bylaws are needed to control this.

Unfortunately short-term rentals receive a negative image from the parties and noise that many unlicensed short-term rentals generate. As the owner and operator of Niagara Holiday Rentals managing a number of short-term rentals in Old Town, all licensed, I encourage all neighbours of properties managed by Niagara Holiday Rentals to contact me 24-7 if there are any problems. (If you live next to one of our properties, you can find my cell number on the door of the house.)

None of our properties have pools or hot tubs, but, yes, some of them do occasionally have loud noise, but there are also homes where people live that occasionally have loud noise.

Short-term rentals give families with children and with pets the opportunity to visit Niagara-on-the-Lake. The majority of bed and breakfasts and hotels in NOTL, if not all of them, don't allow pets; however, many vacation rental homes do.

There have been some comments that short-term rentals have chased kids out of town. There are many factors that have resulted in fewer kids here, including our aging population.

However, short-term rentals are the only affordable option for families with children to visit Niagara-on-the-Lake. Many B&Bs in town don't allow children and I'm sure that anyone with children would tell you that staying in a hotel with children isn't desirable.

Children need space to play both inside and out and a short-term rental allows that. Plus, with a fully-stocked kitchen in a short-term rental, meals are a lot easier for children who may be picky eaters. And it's a lot more affordable to cook meals in the rental home than to have to eat out for every meal.

My wife and I stayed at hotels in Niagara-on-the-Lake for a number of years as tourists. Then we wanted to bring our dog, so we rented a pet-friendly short-term rental. We loved coming here so much that we bought our own vacation home. And we loved that so much that we moved here permanently.

A short-term rental not only brings tourism dollars to the town, it also helps people to experience the town, and hopefully, the friendly neighbours. And eventually move to town permanently and become full fledged tax-paying citizens.

Or perhaps they decide to just buy a vacation home to visit occasionally, but also to make available as a short-term rental to help pay the expenses until they decide to retire here. Not only are they paying taxes on their vacation home, they're also bringing tourist dollars to the town. T

here may be 1,000 beds that are used by short-term rentals and B&Bs, but do we know how many beds are owned by people as vacation homes and not made available as a short-term rental? These second homes are not only empty with no kids in them, they are also empty the majority of the year perhaps with papers piling up and yard work not being done.

A short-term rental is judged by the guests on how clean and tidy it is, both inside and out. Prospective guests are looking at reviews when deciding on a short-term rental to stay at, and vacation home owners and managers know this and ensure their homes are taken care of and maintained throughout the year.

Many vacation rental home owners also live in town and have the same concerns about sustainable tourism that other residents have.

A licensed short-term rental in NOTL provides a place for people to visit town, stay awhile with their friends and family, including kids, and spend money at the area restaurants, shops and grocery stores. This is the type of tourism the town needs.

Jason Clements