Tuesday, April 23, 2024

More Thoughts on Short Term Rentals

Dear Editor,

In response to the Airbnb letter, I want to totally agree. However sad this is, I find no interest in our local government taking action at all.

I have contacted our municipal politicians and staff over an Airbnb on my street. The owner does not live here, owns several properties and manages this business conglomerate out of Toronto. If we are having problems with housing, this is a really big factor in that issue. These Airbnb rentals are businesses, but they are not paying taxes as businesses and they are operating businesses in residential areas. They are not like true B&Bs, in which there is overall health and safety addressed and proper management of the property. Each B&B has taken a house or accommodation out of our community for people who actually need to live here.

Airbnb, Vrbo, all of these rental housing areas are hollowing out our community and leaving people who actually live here, and no place to go. They are damaging in some cases to our infrastructure having seen that on my street, and again reporting this with no response other than a drive by by town staff. The response from staff was to contact the Airbnb’s and make a complaint and there was no response from local politicians I contacted. But we elect our politicians to help us grow and nurture a community that lives here. If we need more tourist housing, then let’s do it properly as businesses and not put these businesses in residential areas. They are meant to be in places that can accommodate parking, ability to access tourist resources, such as walking distance to restaurants and tourism centres.

We want to welcome tourists here and have them have a great experience in Meaford. This is not a way to have a great experience in Meaford, when the neighbourhood is disrupted by those who choose to use these Airbnbs as party houses as a place to use and use up and not care what is left behind.

The devastating fire in Montreal at an Airbnb that was improperly managed is a really good example of what we could face. People who come here do not know how to light a fire in the fire pit that’s in the backyard. They don’t understand what a smoky fire would do to you the neighbours who are living next door or if there is a fire ban, they don’t really care. You would never find this kind of action in a hotel, or a regulated B&B. I can say for a small town of ours to have almost 400 Airbnbs as I counted last fall is pretty remarkable. If the issue is lack of accommodation for tourists, I think that is secondary to the issue of lack of accommodation for people who we need to live here to supply services for those tourists. Let’s support our local accommodation businesses and put these disruptors in their place.

Andrea Wilson, Meaford


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