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Bonfield council searching for the key to calm short term rental issue

Two recent presentations to council have inspired staff to investigate options
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After two recent presentations to council, Bonfield is putting together a report on short-term rentals in the area / Stock photo

People are taking sides on the Bonfield short term rental debate—mostly those rentals listed on sites such as Airbnb and Vrebo—and after a recent presentation from Amie Cullimore, council is looking into options to satisfy both parties.

At council’s meeting on February 22, Paul Preston, on behalf of the Good Neighbours of Bonfield Association, presented against having these rentals within “residential neighbourhoods” in the municipality. He suggested council tighten by-laws to clamp down on these rentals, and that they do so by March 22, “to put these issues to bed well before the summer season starts.”

See: Good Neighbours of Bonfield urge council to stop short term rentals

Cullimore rents her cottage and offered another side to the story. Before she presented to council during their March 8 meeting, she penned a letter to BayToday emphasizing that renting their space “was both legal and permitted” within the municipality and noted there are people in Bonfield who “have been renting out their properties for years and years” without issues.

See: Letter to the editor: Complaints about short term Bonfield renters are unfounded

She reiterated these points to council, emphasizing that before she purchased the property in the summer of 2021, she received “sound legal advice to ensure that we were in our legal right to rent,” and was given “verbal confirmation” from Bonfield’s director of planning and by-law officer that it was okay to do so.

Cullimore mentioned she has created a petition to counter the one created by Preston that calls for a ban on short term rentals. “The people of Bonfield deserve better,” her petition makes clear, and “council must actively solicit the voices of all the people of Bonfield to ensure its position on this issue reflects the wants and needs of this entire community.”

“Short term rentals bring money and investment to the community,” she noted in the petition, which asks “council to refuse to adopt the demand to ban short term rentals.”

Cullimore emphasized that every resident deserves “the same respect and rights” within Bonfield and called upon the mayor and council to examine the “opinions of the entire community” and to do so “with integrity.”

“We’ve heard from both sides now,” councillor Jane Lagassie said, and urged staff to look into options “to help both sides of this issue.” She noted she was “not against” short-term rentals and offered her “respect” for business owners.

Mayor Randall McLaren said, “our staff are certainly looking into this.” He explained that he has spoken with the municipality’s chief administrative officer, Brian Walker, regarding the issue, “but we will have further work to do in that regard before council entertains a position one way or the other.”

“There’s a lot of research do be done,” the mayor added.

Councillor Marc Vaillancourt suggested municipal staff look to their municipal neighbours, namely Callander and East Ferris to “see what everyone else is doing around our area.”

See: Short-term rentals on East Ferris’ radar

“I have already been investigating,” Walker explained. He has also been “paying attention to how the community at large in Bonfield has been expressing their support in either direction.”

“There are more than just opposing sides here,” he added, “there really is a number of various opinions being expressed” on the issue, and he plans to bring forward a report to council “in the very near future.”

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

About the Author: David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering civic and diversity issues for BayToday. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada
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