Selwyn Township mulling increased penalties for nuisance Airbnbs

·3 min read

Selwyn Township councillors would like to see penalties for Airbnb operators with rowdy tenants increased because they say the current system is not working.

After hearing from an upset resident, Doug Simmons, at Tuesday’s township council meeting, council voted to direct staff to undertake a review of the present fine structure and potentially raise penalties to $2,000 for a fourth complaint.

“I feel for you,” Coun. Gerry Herron told Simmons. “I couldn’t imagine it being beside me. However, if there is a way for somebody to make a profit, they will. The only way to get people’s attention is to hit them in the pocketbook.

“We need to rethink this thing, make it a little harsher because I don’t think it’s working.”

Simmons spoke specifically about properties on Gifford Drive in Ennismore where he said there have been all-night noisy parties, tenants trespassing on neighbours’ property, dogs barking, loud music, drunkenness — all happening for three years.

Simmons said there were 10 boats and seven cars parked at a property last month.

“Who do we phone? This is wrong and should be addressed, one way or another. There’s got to be something done. People’s nerves are on edge. We’re looking for answers. We want some feedback. It is out of control,” he said.

Currently, first complaints carry a warning, then a $250 for a second complaint. A third complaint triggers a $500 penalty. That climbs to $1,000 for the fourth complaint during a one-year period.

After that, they are reset. Herron suggested a warning for the first complaint, $500 for the second, $1,000 for the third and $2,000 for the fourth, with no reset.

Simmons also said someone he knows contacted the police on the September long weekend with a complaint but they “don’t want to be bothered.” The officer who took the call was not helpful, saying there was nothing he could do, and suggested the 30-year resident sell their own property, according to Simmons.

Robert Lamarre, manager of building and planning for the township, said it’s not that “nothing” has been done in the township to address the issue of nuisance Airbnbs. A committee “put a lot of thought into what we could do that was reasonable and that would have some success,” he said.

Lamarre said the township developed a system of fines so owners are affected by the bad behaviour of their tenants.

And the proper response from a police officer should be “we will attend as soon as we have an officer available,” Lamarre said. He plans to discuss the issue at the next police board meeting.

Chief administrative officer Janice Lavalley told council a meeting is scheduled with CAOs at Peterborough County and at least six of the county’s townships in early November to discuss the problem.

Council directed staff to bring up the police responses at the next police board meeting, have the CAO report back to council after the county meeting, have staff report back on the penalty structure and ask for other suggestions from staff.

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner

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