The town of Lac Brome, Qc. may soon be holding a referendum on whether or not to allow short-term rentals on its territory.
The town, located about 100 kilometres east of Montreal, is a popular destination for lakeside vacations. Currently, short-term rentals, such as Airbnbs, are only allowed in certain restricted areas.
The proposed rules would allow them in the entirety of the town, a move that some residents said would exacerbate an existing problem.
"There is history. Particularly in Saint-Côme, at Lac Clair, there have been problems with nuisances, with noise, et cetera," said Benoît G. Bourgon, a founding member of the Vigilance Lac-Brome residents group opposing the motion.
"We want to prevent future problems, not try to fix it later, by limiting these kinds of rentals as much as possible," he said.
A minimum of 218 signatures was required to force the referendum. The petition received over 370.
Residents aren't the only ones upset. Some existing landlords who rent out properties for short-term rentals are also against the new measures — including a new rule that a property has to be larger than 1,500 square metres to be eligible for short-term rentals.
That would exclude most of the properties along the waterfront, explained Shauna Burnham, a resident of the town who works for a cleaning company servicing vacation rentals.
She said she hopes the city reconsiders, taking into account the economic benefits of having vacationers in the town.
"It brings in people who will spend money in our city, go shopping in our stores," she said.
Locals like her can't afford to "eat a $17 lunch every day just to support local businesses," she explained.
Richard Burcombe, the mayor of Lac-Brome said the town tried to consider the needs of both residents and renters.
"It's hard to please everyone, but we've always tried to please both sides," he said.
The town's council will decide whether to go ahead with the referendum or to take another stab at the regulations. The next council meeting is scheduled for July.