Editors note: The following letter was written in response to coverage of a Bonfield council meeting and the resulting BayToday story Good Neighbours of Bonfield urge council to stop short term rentals.
We would like to respond to a recent article in BayToday.ca regarding short term rentals in Bonfield, Ontario.
We are the neighbours that Dr Preston is referring to in this article. He is the individual who owns the multimillion-dollar home beside our small log cottage that we cherish and rent out to quiet, respectful, nature-loving families and yes, whose rent helps us pay our far-too-high mortgage.
Indeed, we bought our cottage in the middle of COVID when there were bidding wars and yes, we absolutely paid more than we should have - but after years of searching, we finally had found “our” dream. We knew when we bought our cottage that the bidding war meant that we would have to rent it in order to be able to have the privilege of owning a cottage in this spectacular area. We accepted that; we knew then as we know now, that renting out our cottage was both legal and permitted.
We came to Bonfield to find peace and to give our children the gift of a future on spectacular Lake Talon. We have been under pressure and experiencing duress as a result of our neighbours, almost since the moment we first arrived.
We are simple people, and we can assure Bonfield that there is no carousing nor any mischief by us or by our renters. If there had been, or ever is, we would have encouraged Dr. Preston to call the authorities and take appropriate action. In fact, we have never heard any complaints about our renters from any of our neighbours, despite these persistent and broadly worded unfounded public statements Dr Preston is fond of making.
We are concerned that the reporter of this article presented only one side of this important issue; where were the voices of those owners that do rent? The small business owners that benefit from the influx of people and money? The citizens of Bonfield ?
In fact, on a Bonfield Facebook page, there is significant support from the community for short term renters and the benefits that they bring to the community.
We ourselves were cottage renters for 30 years and we frankly find it offensive that the author of this article and Dr. Preston would infer negatively on renters as a group, and suggest that they spend their time up here “carousing and causing mischief”. We can only speculate why people want to rent up here, but safe to say it’s about their love of the outdoors and the opportunity to share time with family and friends.
Some may not want to own a property, and others may not have the financial resources to own a cottage, but to generalize that group of people as troublemakers who “ruin the summer” of permanent landowners is both insulting and offensive.
It’s disturbing that people with Dr Preston’s privilege use the media to further their own personal agendas. In reflecting on this article (as only one example of many) we can’t help but wonder if any member of the community of Bonfield can just “stop by” council, make demands and provide deadlines for action - or is it just the privileged, well connected and affluent landowners like Dr Preston that have that access?
We too are taxpayers in this community; like most other owners who rent their properties, we are law-abiding citizens just trying to live our own dream. We just want our neighbours to leave us alone.
The people of Bonfield have been renting out their properties for years and years.
Ironically, it is not lost upon us that Dr Preston has seemingly not cared for these “important “ issues before, at least not until we moved in next door and refused to give in to his demands or bow to his coercive tactics in an attempt to stop us from renting our cottage on the occasions that we are not there.
We agree that these are important issues for the community to reflect upon; as new members up here, we hope that the voice of the community is not just dictated by the well connected wealthy community members like Dr Preston, but represents the breadth and depth of all of the people of Bonfield itself.
We will clearly abide by whatever direction the citizens and Council of Bonfield decide to take in the direction of short term rentals. If council decides to ban rentals we will be forced to sell our cottage and leave the community along with countless other people who are also just trying to make a go of it. That is what Dr Preston and his personal lobby group want; we are more interested in what the community wants.
Robin Edwards and Amie Cullimore