David Chernushenko: Short-term rentals, long-term trees, and more 

David ChernushenkoShort-term rental platforms such as Airbnb have brought with them tremendous opportunities for people all over the world to rent or rent out a vast selection of lodgings for vacations or work, at prices often cheaper than a hotel.  

Along with cost savings for guests and income potential for hosts participating in this “sharing economy”, short-term stays can bring with them a series of problems and nuisances. In Ottawa, neighbours of some rentals have complained of a revolving door of visitors on their streets, or in their condo or apartment buildings. Security and noise problems are causing disruptions at properties not zoned for hotel-type use. The already tight long-term rental market is shrinking. 

The proliferation of short-term rentals has also raised concerns of unfair competition in the hotel industry. A 2017 study showed that instead of “sharing” a spare room in their homes for extra cash, most short-term rental hosts have turned entire apartments or houses into full-time guest lodgings, even buying multiple properties specifically for this purpose. That makes them commercial enterprises that should be taxed and regulated accordingly. 

The economic issue has been significantly addressed — Airbnb-type hosts are now required to collect HST as well as the City of Ottawa’s 4% Hotel and Short Term Accommodation Tax, which funds the promotion and development of tourism to Ottawa.  

As for other concerns, the City is responding with a public consultation and comprehensive review by early 2019, examining issues such as licensing of residential room rentals, short-term rentals (i.e., Airbnb) and student/shared accommodations, as well as public safety, consumer protection and community nuisance issues. I will provide further details about the study, and ways of participating, as this information becomes available. 

Urban tree bylaw review coming
In early 2017, City Council approved Ottawa’s first ever Urban Forest Management Plan. Since then, work has begun on a number of the action items set out in the 15-year plan. Not surprisingly, residents have expressed a strong interest in preserving the local tree canopy, protecting trees on public rights of way and private property, and seeing more new trees planted. 

A notable first step includes a full review by City staff of two existing, related bylaws: The Municipal Trees and Natural Areas Protection Bylaw, which covers all municipally-owned trees, and the Urban Tree Conservation Bylaw, which applies to a portion of privately-owned trees within the urban boundary, depending on property size and tree size. 

This project will: 

  • Seek opportunities to strengthen the Municipal Trees and Natural Areas Protection By-law 
  • Investigate the need for a Heritage Tree By-law, program, or registry in Ottawa 
  • Develop city-wide tree compensation guidelines 
  • Identify and formalize incentives for tree conservation and establishment. 

The City expects to release a discussion paper next January, and to present recommendations to the Environment and Climate Protection Committee in February, and to full Council in June 2019.  

Capital Ward Walk/Roll/Ride along the Rideau River
There have been many recent changes to the west side of the Rideau River: Pathway improvements, the Main Street and McIlraith Bridge reconstruction projects, Greystone Village construction, Springhurst Park improvements and, of course, the new linkage along the river as far as the University of Ottawa stadium and the soon-to-open Lees LRT station.  

Join me for a stroll or roll on Saturday, June 2, to see what’s been done and what is still to come. All ages and abilities welcome. Dress for the weather and bring water. We’ll meet at 10 a.m. beside the tennis courts in Windsor Park. The walk will last until about 11:30 a.m. 

Councillor David Chernushenko 
613-580-2487 | David.Chernushenko@Ottawa.ca | www.capitalward.ca 

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Filed in: Front Page, Political Pages

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