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housingTo the editor:

I spoke yesterday with Amy Cann of the Owen Sound Planning Department Re short term rentals in Owen Sound.

I know that we have limited housing in Owen Sound for working people as well as seniors who are moving to Owen Sound in increasing numbers. These additional populations will enhance and contribute to our economy. Such people are not buying into the new condo buildings or subdivisions that are currently under construction.

I think that the Covid 19 changes to the Ontario economy will increase the need for affordable and accessible housing in Owen Sound.
I wonder how the official planning process will address these needs?
Some housing in Owen Sound is becoming short term tourist rental rather than housing for permanent tenancy.
Is there tax assessment on income and legal regulation of Airbnb within Owen Sound?
Apparently not according to Amy Cann at the Owen Sound Planning Department.
There are several issues:

1. Local Housing is removed from use by longer term tenants by Airbnb short term rentals.

2. Often no taxes are paid locally on this income and yet services paid for by tax payers of Owen Sound are being used.

3. A burden of accommodating Airbnb renters who party, disturb neighbours, park in spots that are not the owners’ and add trash to neighbourhoods is put on local neighbourhoods.

4. Our own landlords and hoteliers pay tax on their income and are regulated. Why should their incomes be even more precarious because of these Airbnb landlords who “fly under the radar”?

5. Bylaw officers who are part of city support and police services cost taxpayers‘ money. More of them will be required to manage short term tenants.

I hasten to say this e-mail is not just about cost, it is about the quality of life in Owen Sound for the citizens who love living here. Like me.

I think it is incumbent on the City of Owen Sound to be aware of the effect on our lifestyle by Airbnb. Taxpayers and city services must be used efficiently and effectively. Residential housing must be increased and protected, not turned into Airbnb for the use of transient visitors.

Our downtown area needs to be protected as a “liveable” area of the city. Residents need to be able to walk to shop, bank, use the library and the art gallery as well as parks and city services. Seniors and citizens who walk to these services need this part of the city protected for living.

The official plan must address this serious issue which other Ontario cities are regulating.

Sincerely

Marianne and Mal Williams
Owen Sound

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