East Hawkesbury residents urge township to regulate Airbnbs, short-term rentals

·2 min read
Several residents in East Hawkesbury, Ont., are calling on their township's council to draft rules to manage short-term rental properties after a large home renting for $2,000 a night popped up on Airbnb. (Denis Babin/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Several residents in East Hawkesbury, Ont., are calling on their township's council to draft rules to manage short-term rental properties after a large home renting for $2,000 a night popped up on Airbnb. (Denis Babin/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Homeowners in one eastern Ontario township are taking issue with the arrival of short-term rentals in their riverside community.

Residents in East Hawkesbury, Ont., approximately an hour's drive east of downtown Ottawa, have brought their concerns to the local council, calling for rules that would manage Airbnb properties and others like them.

"These homes were built for families, not for Airbnb. I mean, what do they contribute to the neighborhood?" said Jennifer Brennan, who's lived in the area for two decades.

"Nothing. They come in, they party, they leave."

'What happens to the community?'

Brennan became aware of what was happening after one large house near her was listed on Airbnb.

It sits next to the Ottawa River, rents for approximately $2,000 a night and can host up to 16 people at once.

She's among those who are now worried what an influx of short-term rentals like it could mean for the township of roughly 3,500 people.

"I think our concern is, is this the first one? Will there be more? In this area, like everywhere, it's an aging population," Brennan said.

"People are eventually going to be selling their homes because they can't stay in them anymore. Therefore, will there be more Airbnbs popping up? And if that's the case, what happens to the community?"

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

While several waterfront municipalities in Ontario have moved to regulate or restrict short-term rentals, East Hawkesbury isn't one of them.

Mayor Robert Kirby said the municipality is consulting a lawyer, however.

"Well, the first thing we have to do is find out what we can legally do," he said. "We don't have anything in place right now."

Council is slated to reconvene in early August to discuss the matter.

"People have bought these homes along the river — they're expensive homes — and that wasn't what they bargained for when they bought them," Kirby said. "We'll try and do something that can improve the situation."

In an interview with Radio-Canada, Wing Dai Lee, the Ottawa-based owner of the Airbnb rental, said loud parties would not be tolerated and guests must respect both the home's neighbours and municipal noise bylaws.

Security cameras have been installed on the property, he said, and guests with poor Airbnb ratings would not be allowed to rent it.

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