Paul Preston, representing the Good Neighbours of Bonfield Association, recently stopped by council to voice concerns about short-term rentals in the area, rentals usually listed on booking websites like Airbnb and Vrbo.
He suggested council adopt a by-law to prohibit the short-term rentals within all “residential neighbourhoods in Bonfield.”
Donna Clark, another group member, also presented and urged council to “enforce the current by-law which forbids the commercial use of short-term rentals as tourist accommodation in residential zones.”
She suggested a target date of March 22, 2022, to pass the necessary resolutions “to put these issues to bed well before the summer season starts,” to prevent what Preston referred to as “another nightmare summer, with all these strangers coming up,” creating “mischief” and carousing “all hours of the night.”
The “newly formed” Good Neighbours group is “concerned about the damage to our neighbourhoods by these commercial short-term rentals.” As of today, there are 50 listings on Airbnb for properties in the Bonfield area, many lakefront. Vrbo has 13 listings for Bonfield.
These owners “harm our neighbourhoods for their own profit,” Preston told council, and reminded them there “are not commercial uses allowed in the residential zones” of Bonfield, “yet a commercial venture opened up next to me last summer,” he said, referring to a cottage for rent.
Preston added that these businesses “make a mockery of the zoning bylaws,” and their proliferation is “driving up residential home prices.” He characterized the owners and operators of such rentals as “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
A petition on Change.org has been created, Clark explained, and “it’s really bringing the community together.” Its purpose is to encourage Bonfield to enforce their by-laws and “to keep residential zones residential.”
There are “absent owners” buying properties in the area, the group details on their petition, “who destroy our neighbourhoods while they live far away in their own unaffected homes and undisturbed residential neighbourhoods while stuffing their pockets with the profits of these unregistered businesses.”
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.