Short-term rental debate divides town outside Manitoba’s Riding Mountain National Park

A debate over short-term home rentals is dividing a Manitoba municipality that borders Riding Mountain National Park — some residents think rentals are good for tourism, others want the practice regulated or banned altogether.

The Warden of the Harrison Park Municipality, which includes Onanole, Newdale and Sandy Lake, says there are residents who are strongly opposed to short-term rentals, including Airbnb, and others who are enthusiastic about it. idea of ​​tourists being driven to the area.

Jason Potter believes in strengthening the region’s economy, but thinks there must be clear rules for the owners of the municipality’s 90 or so rentals and their visitors.

“The town of Onanole, our whole economy is driven by tourism. And I think a lot of people are very attached to that because [… ] the main driver of our economy is tourism,” he said.

“I’m a big fan of small businesses and entrepreneurs, and I think we need to come up with some kind of draft regulations with rules and restrictions, obviously in terms of [short-term rentals]but a total ban, I am not in favor.”

A few of the Airbnbs located a short drive from Riding Mountain National Park. (Airbnb)

Next month, the debate over short-term rentals will come to a head when the council. Craig Atkinson will table a motion to ban them in the municipality at the last council meeting of 2021.

“I don’t think residents expect hotels to be next to them in residential areas and I think it […] makes it difficult for families to find homes here,” Atkinson told CBC News.

View of Clear Lake from the Wasagaming townsite. Short-term rental units are popping up all over Riding Mountain National Park. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

Onanole owner Ralph Clark wants short-term rental activity to be reduced in residential areas, as rental properties are businesses that can be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

He bought his property in 2005 and started living there full time just over three years ago. Around this time someone bought the property across from him and is operating it like an Airbnb.

This past summer was “a summer I wouldn’t wish on anyone,” he said, and made him think about his future in the city.

“During the past summer, over a period of about 11 weeks, we had to contact our neighbors seven times. We called the RCMP twice and there were about two or three occasions where we tried to deal with the situation on our own,” Clark said.

These situations range from noise complaints to people encroaching on his property.

Short-term rentals drive economic growth

On the other end of the spectrum, Tyler Plante is all for short-term rentals. He owns a property called Bears Den in Onanole, which operates as an Airbnb.

Plante says he understands how sad it can be for locals who have had “a little slice of heaven” for many years and are going through a change.

Tyler Plante says Airbnb properties and short-term rentals like his help boost the local economy. (The Bear’s Lair/Airbnb)

“It’s disheartening, but it’s part of life,” he said.

“For communities to continue to grow, there needs to be economic growth and that’s coming to this area from tourism. And the more tourists you can bring in, […] so much the better for business. »

The real estate agent believes that the municipality should impose a tax on short-term rental accommodation and develop better rules to ensure that it is not the “Wild West of Airbnbs”.

“You have to respect that neighbor and make sure everyone cohabits appropriately, because otherwise it will turn a nice place into something messy, and nobody wants that,” Plante said.

“We just have to find common ground, and that’s where we have to trust our board.”

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