Recognized for its tranquility and its enchanting coastline along the Ottawa River, the Township of East Hawkesbury has only 3,418 people, according to the 2021 census.

From West Islandto Montreal, Jennifer Brennan moved there in 2001 to fully enjoy his retirement. The tranquility and sense of community within the neighborhood are just some of the things that make her love this place where, according to her, I love to live.

Jennifer Brennan fears that short-term rentals in East Hawkesbury are jeopardizing the social fabric and lifestyle of the small community, which is known for its tranquility.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Denis Babin

However, shock and worry crept into Ms. Brennanwhen she learned that a sumptuous residence, not far from hers, had been freshly sold, then displayed on the platform Airbnb. Members of his neighborhood share this same sentiment.

We expected a family to move here […]. Then when someone told us it was a Airbnb, we said: “Oh boy”. Right away it worried us, because we’ve all heard negative stories about Airbnbs. »

A quote from Jennifer Brennan, neighbor of the house used as short-term rental accommodation

The photos of the property presented on the online platform Airbnb show a very large lot along the Ottawa River. The interior decor and landscaping are both luxurious. The property can accommodate up to 16 people per rental period, at a cost of $2000 per night.

You know right away that at these prices there will be crowds. At least that’s what I thinklaunches Ms. Brennan. It’s something we might find [Mont] Tremblant or north of Torontoshe says, but not necessarily in East Hawkesbury.

The Township of East Hawkesbury has no regulations or restrictions related to the presence of short-term rental accommodation of the type Airbnb and Vrbo in its territory.

With this information in mind, a delegation of citizens, including neighbors of the property in question, including Jennifer Brennan, spoke on this subject before the municipal council of the canton, on June 13th. Their intention was to express their fears about the appearance of short-term rentals in this peaceful area of ​​eastern Ontario.

We want them to stop the future of Airbnbs here. I don’t know what they can do with this one, because it’s already done, but [on souhaiterait] that they spend a [règlement municipal]something that prohibits Airbnbs in this sector. »

A quote from Jennifer Brennan

The delegation wishes in particular that the municipal council can do something to protect the quality of life we ​​have here, to protect the neighborhood as it is, and the kind of life we ​​haveexplains Ms. Brennan.

The appearance of new short-term rental accommodation may be less obvious in urban centres, such as Montreal or Ottawa, believes Jennifer Brennan, because sometimes you don’t know the neighbor […] but here, where it’s quiet, it’s really remarkable.

The Township of East Hawkesbury, in Eastern Ontario, has no regulations governing the rental of short-term housing on its territory.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Denis Babin

One of the owners wants to be reassured

The sumptuous property that serves asAirbnb belongs to the company Sunset Riverview Estate Inc.registered in the names of Wing Dai Lee of Ottawa and Mark Ng of Toronto, according to official documents consulted via Canadian Business Directories.

Reached by phone last week, Wing Dai Lee claims that several other properties near his are displayed on the platform Airbnb. According to research carried out by Radio-Canada, another property on the same street is displayed on this platform.

The Ottawan says he is not aware that a delegation has spoken on this subject before the municipal council. However, he assures us that he understands the concerns of citizens regarding the possibility that their peace of mind will be disturbed by noisy tenants or by the organization of events in the residence he rents on a short-term basis.

He wants to reassure citizens by telling them that his announcement Airbnb is clear: no large parties are tolerated and guests are expected to respect neighbors and municipal noise regulations. Surveillance cameras are installed on its land to ensure that the instructions are followed.

On the page of his residence published on the platform Airbnbwe can actually read thatabsolutely no crazy parties are allowed and that, if applicable, guest will be evicted without refund and fined $1000. Guests are also asked to avoid loud noise after 11 p.m.

We don’t accept any customer who has bad review [sur Airbnb] or who has none at all, said the owner, by telephone, to Radio-Canada, adding that members of his family or himself often use the house. He claims to have given his telephone number to two of his neighbors in case, in particular, there would be trouble caused by people who rent his house on the short term.

No decision until August in East Hawkesbury

The community of East Hawkesbury thus joins the many small municipalities that are now called upon to consider the presence of short-term rentals on its territory.

Elsewhere in Ontario, some of them have chosen to regulate more vigorously this type of rental carried out through platforms. Airbnb or Vrbo.

Several waterfront municipalities in Ontario have chosen – or are considering – to regulate or restrict short-term rentals, in hopes of preserving the way of life and social fabric that characterizes their small communities.

This is the case, among others, of Lambton Shores, Port Stanley, Goderich and the municipality of the peninsula of bruce South.

Having never been confronted with this issue before and noting the concern of its citizens, the municipal council of the Township of East Hawkesbury agreed to look into the matter with the help of consultants and a lawyer.

East Hawkesbury Township Mayor Robert Kirby (files)

Photo: Radio-Canada / Denis Babin

Asked about the subject a little more than a week after this meeting, the township mayor, Robert Kirby, reminds us that elected municipal officials must first determine what we can do legally.

We have nothing in place at the moment […]. Council is considering the matter. We gave the administration the authority to go ahead and provide us with information, and I know there was a meeting with the lawyer. But I was not really informed of what happened. »

A quote from Robert Kirby, Mayor of the Township of East Hawkesbury

Due to the summer break, the subject will not be discussed by council members until early August, when the next council meeting is scheduled.

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