Moncton councillor Charles Légèr is hoping to pass a bylaw that would require short-term rentals to pass an inspection from the city’s fire department before being able to operate.
“What I’d like to see is just a simple permit process where fire prevention would be able to go in and take a look and make sure that the safety features are there, then the permit number would be given to the short-term rental,” Légèr, who represents Ward 2, said in an interview on Tuesday.
The call comes after seven people died at an Airbnb that caught fire in Montreal in March.
“This was very disturbing in that somebody could rent an apartment with no windows,” he said.
“And then when there’s a fire such as the one in Montreal … they died as a result.”
While Fire Chief Conrad Landry supports the motion, he has concerns about being able to enforce it.
He says he wonders if they have enough staff to take on the additional responsibility, and needs more information on how many short-term rentals are in the city.
“If there’s 100 Airbnbs we could do it but if there’s 1,000 that might include additional staff,” he said.
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He said the department is already stretched thin as it is, thanks to Moncton’s growing population.
“The last few years we saw our call volumes increased, we have more fires, so when you investigate more fires you don’t have as much time to do inspections,” he said.
He said the dramatic increase in calls related to overdoses has also increased the staff’s workload.
“When a fire crew goes there for an overdose, when there’s a fire they can’t just leave that person until the ambulance arrives.”
He said there were often delays waiting for ambulances due to health care staffing shortages.
Légèr introduced the motion to council for the first time on Monday evening.
He’s hoping the bylaw will be adopted by July.
“I support (the motion) as long as the resources are put in place in that we can support it and do it right,” Landry said.
“In the fairly near future, we’re going to need to explore our resources,” he added.