ERIN - Following complaints from residents about a party that was held in an Airbnb in a neighbourhood in Erin, the Town of Erin posted on its Facebook page that Airbnbs are prohibited in the town, though there is no bylaw supporting such a ban.
The Town of Erin posted on its Facebook page informing local residents that short term rentals such as Airbnbs are prohibited within the town. Bed and breakfasts and agritourism, however, are allowed and regulated within the town with an approved bylaw.
“Currently, Airbnbs are not contemplated under our bylaws. Bed and breakfast and agritourism are regulated and contemplated within our bylaws that council has approved. Airbnbs is new to Erin; we’ve never had it before and we will be looking at it and trying to create the best bylaw to best handle it,” explained Mayor Allan Alls.
The Facebook post was published Tuesday morning after the town received complaints from residents living in the Tomwell Crescent area of a party that happened in an Airbnb within that neighbourhood last weekend.
“When we heard about the complaints, we notified the visitors and the owners of the Airbnb that it is not covered under our bylaw at this time,” said Alls.
“We have posted a notice on the door that Airbnbs are not allowed at this stage of the game until we come up with a bylaw to cover this.”
The ban of Airbnbs is currently not included in any town statutes or bylaws. However, Alls explained town staff and council are looking at how neighbouring municipalities are dealing with Airbnb’s and the parties people throw within these units.
When asked how the town will enforce any Airbnbs that are currently operating since there are no bylaws around it, the town's communication team stated in an email the bylaw officer continues to regularly field bylaw complaints and concerns brought forward by the Erin community.
Several residents who were thinking of turning their properties into Airbnbs have voiced their opposition to the Facebook post. They believe that Airbnbs can help the town’s tourism and economic development.
“We are discussing the possibility of opening one up. Airbnbs seems to get a bad rap. However, banning rentals completely is unfair to responsible owners,” explained Seoirse Novohomem, a local Erin resident, in a Facebook message.
“This town, especially the mayor, continues to promote the town and continuously remind residents that we are open for business. But we have little lodging available; we have nearly zero overnight or multi-day tourism. So, why punish one group of businesses?”
Novohomem noted that if there are places for people to stay overnight, they are more likely to visit the town's restaurants and bakeries; the beautiful scenery and walk around the downtown core.
Selena Hall Vottero, another Erin resident, echoed Novohomem’s sentiment, stating that Airbnbs would benefit the town as Erin is a beautiful place to visit and live in since it has many hiking trails and wedding venues.
“When COVID hit more people came to the country to get out for a walk and to be away from crowds of people. We need more tourists visiting quaint little towns such as ours to survive. More and more wedding venues have also popped up in Erin, but we still have little accommodations to fulfill the need for overnight stays,” Vottero said in a Facebook message.
However, despite the objections from several residents on the ban, the town still feels that agritourism and the bed and breakfast that are permitted in the town will drive tourism and help build economic growth without the use of Airbnbs.
"Once the water reclamation facility has been built, we are able to foster more amenities to drive tourism into Erin. However, tourism is one of five sectors of focus in the Town of Erin as outlined in the town's economic development plan and supports the town's strategic goal of economic prosperity. We have a plan to drive more tourism without the use of Airbnbs," explained Erin's communication team in an email.
Angelica Babiera, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com