Town of Rothesay, N.B. calls for more regulations for short-term accomodations

Click to play video: 'Rothesay, N.B. calling on province to regulate short-term rentals'
Rothesay, N.B. calling on province to regulate short-term rentals
WATCH: The town of Rothesay, N.B. is calling on the provincial government to regulate short-term rentals. The town has a bylaw that will allow it to tax accommodations, but it only applies to hotels, motels and campgrounds. But because the town doesn’t know exactly how many short-term rentals there are, the tax doesn’t apply to them. Zack Power reports. – Apr 14, 2023

The small town of Rothesay, N.B., is calling on the provincial government for a registry of short-term rentals, as the town fears safety concerns and an unfair playing field for those with registered accommodations like hotels, motels and campgrounds.

At a council meeting on Tuesday, town council pushed forward a bylaw to allow a levy on registered accommodations in the town. The 3.5-per cent levy would be charged to guests and received back to the town at a later date to help with tourism.

They will be joining neighbouring Saint John and Quispamsis in adding that.

The unfair playing field was brought to light in February at a public hearing, where an innkeeper suggested that he could put his units on Airbnb to avoid safety regulations and fees downloaded on the consumer.

“When It becomes a bylaw or law, we could shift all our rooms onto Airbnb so we can be competitive with the market,” told Martin St. Denis, the owner of the Shadow Lawn Inn.

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The town said they plan to write to the province in hopes of getting a similar registry to Nova Scotia, requiring those who provide shared short-term or short-term accommodations to register with the province.

That registration also included a fee ranging between $50-150. Currently, New Brunswick doesn’t have that registry.

“(A concern) is safety of registered and unregulated, and that was driven home by the recent episode in Montreal,” said Rothesay Mayor Nancy Grant.

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That episode was a fire in Montreal that killed seven occupants of a building containing an unregulated Airbnb. The mayor said that it was an example of how the accommodations can be a safety risk.

“(another concern) is with the use of municipal resources, which can exceed the norm with these Airbnb’s,”  Grant said at a recent council meeting.

In a statement to Global News, the province said there are currently no regulations for short-term properties, noting that municipalities can, however, set zoning and permit requirements within their municipal boundary.

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They also are looking into adding requirements of their own.

“The Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture is currently performing a full assessment of New Brunswick’s accommodations sector. This includes, but is not limited to, traditional hotels/motels, resorts, cottages, outfitters, campgrounds and shareable accommodations (Airbnb, Vrbo, etc.),” said spokesperson Leigh Watson in a statement.

“As part of this assessment, the department is conducting a jurisdictional scan of what other provinces and municipalities are doing as it relates to the short-term rentals industry and the tourism sector. The assessment, which will be completed by early June, will give the department a comprehensive report on the current state of the accommodations sector and strategic considerations for forward planning.”

The town’s deputy mayor believes there are roughly 10-20 short-term accommodations in the town.

Click to play video: 'Fire survivor, housing groups calling for more action against illegal short-term rentals'
Fire survivor, housing groups calling for more action against illegal short-term rentals

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