Gimli eyes short-term rental regulations

Gimli is the latest municipality in the province to eye short-term rental regulations.

Diana Bristow grew up in the lakeside resort community of Gimli, with her great-grandfather being among the first to come from Iceland.

Though she lives in Ontario now, she hosts a short-term rental in her family cottage.

“It’s been in the family for a long time,” she said. “But because I live in Ontario, I’m not there all the time and I rent it out to people who would like to come back to Gimli.”

Bristow may soon be dealing with new regulations when it comes to renting out her cottage.

The rural municipality of Gimli posted a notice on its website Monday announcing it will be developing a strategy to regulate short-term rentals.

“Like many municipalities across Canada, Gimli recognizes the need to regulate short-term rentals in the municipality to protect the availability and affordability of long-term housing to support the local economy, tourism industry, and available accommodation options,” Coun. Thora Palson, chair of finance and administration in Gimli, told CTV News.

The move is not a surprise to Melanie Mitchell, the president and founder of the Manitoba Association of Short Term Rental Owners (MASTRO).

“Eventually every city and town in Manitoba, in the world, will have some form of regulation,” she said, pointing to Winnipeg which recently voted in favour of bringing in new rules to the industry.

READ MORE: Winnipeg takes another step toward new short-term rental rules

“I think all short-term rentals should be regulated. It’s just fair regulation is the keyword.”

Mitchell said short-term rentals have a big impact on the local economy, with visitors spending on average $200 per person a night on restaurants, entertainment and other amenities.

“Every small business or larger business that exists in Gimli is affected by these regulations, not just the short-term rental industry.”

Mitchell said she hopes Gimli’s process in moving toward regulation is a collaborative effort with all sides involved.

While the process is in the early stages, Palson said the rural municipality is looking to hear from residents, adding community engagement is paramount to the success of the regulations.

“We are committed to informing and consulting with business owners, area residents and cottage owners to ensure the public’s concerns and aspirations are reflected,” Palson said, saying residents’ input will help council develop the regulations.

“We really value the feedback of the community as we strive to develop regulations that strike a balance between the various needs of the community.”

Bristow said she thinks it is great the rural municipality is doing public engagement as a first step.

“My hope is that they’re not going to try and impose anything too restrictive because Gimli really relies on tourism and it’s important to be able to keep that available,” she said.

“We’re already paying tax on the income and we do pay GST on the rent, so you know I don’t think we’re skirting what any other business locally would be doing.”

She said she would be in favour of the RM charging a business fee to register short-term rentals in order to keep track of who is offering the service.

A survey for residents will be available both online and in print on March 30. The RM will also be hosting an open house on April 21 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Johnson Hall.

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