The Township of East Hawkesbury is considering options to regulate short-term rental accommodations in the municipality, and one option is banning them from properties fronting the Ottawa River.
Carole Zbacnik, whose property is on the river along Front Road, sent a letter to the township explaining her concerns. Zbacnik and a few of her neighbours also attended the last township council meeting on June 13.
In her letter and appearance before council, Zbacnik said the home next door to where she and her husband live recently sold and the new owner listed it on Airbnb, offering a variety of amenities and water recreation opportunities. She has also heard the owner plans to convert the garage into an indoor miniature golf course. Zbacnik said the house has five bedrooms and allows up to 16 guests.
Due to the number of people often staying at the house, Zbacnik is concerned about noise and loss of enjoyment for surrounding residents, effects on the septic system, and the resale value of neighbouring properties.
Chief Building Official and By-law Officer Jessy Hoffman said he agrees with the residents’ concerns about the septic system, but any decision to regulate short-term rentals is for council to make.
“Maybe we could regulate it. I don’t think we want to cancel it completely,” Mayor Robert Kirby said.
“We had bed and breakfasts before in the township and there was never a problem, because the owner’s always there in the house with them, so there’s no issues, but this scares me a lot,” Councillor Karina Sauvé said.
Hoffman said some municipalities use a demerit point system for licensed short-term rentals. If they receive too many points, then fines can be issued. He said the township’s existing noise by-law could be amended to include set fines – something which does not presently exist. He said the Airbnb company will receive complaints and issue fines to owner/operators of rental properties. As another regulation example, Hoffman said some municipalities limit occupancy of short-term rental accommodations.
Deputy Mayor Simon Rozon said he liked the idea of prohibiting short-term rentals along the waterfront.
Clerk Hemi Villeneuve said she and Hoffman would have a discussion with the township’s consultants and develop recommended amendments to the zoning by-law.