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Short-term rental consultations must start soon: advocate

North-end Halifax group Neighbours Speak Up is once again trying to bring awareness to the over-saturation of short-term rentals on the peninsula
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A photo capture of some current short-term rental listings available in Halifax.

North-end Halifax group Neighbours Speak Up is once again trying to bring awareness to the over-saturation of short-term rentals on the peninsula.

Almost 10 months after spokesperson Bill Stewart began speaking to media, he says there has been little progress.

"We contacted them, made presentations, tried to lay out the situation both to the province and to HRM," Stewart tells NEWS 95.7's The Todd Veinotte Show.

Stewart says that the province said in March that they will begin considering legislation to be put in place by March 2020.

"In the mean time they would consult with municipalities, the accommodation industry, and the public in order to develop regulations that would speak to the issue," he says.

But the advocate says so far there has been no public consultation happening from either the province or the municipality.

"HRM has initiated a study looking to see if they need to have some bylaws and some policies around this issue," he says. "Apparently there's supposed to be a survey on that, although we're still waiting to hear more."

Since being in the public eye, Stewart says Neighbours Speak Up has received an outpouring of support and stories from residents of HRM who are noticing the hike in short-term rentals in their communities, too.

"They cause a certain amount of disruption for the people that live there, but they're also taking away valuable housing for people that want to live there on a long-term basis," he says.

Stewart says the government's response to the issue has mainly been through the lens of tourism, not community-building.

"We notice that they really didn't address the issues of neighbourhoods, communities and housing," he adds.

Although Neighbours Speak Up recognizes the importance of tourism, Stewart says that short-term rentals need to be up-to-par.

"These short-term rentals are unlicensed, uninspected. It is scary to contemplate that when you think about it, as you live next door to a property that's got people coming in and our every three or four days," he says.

Stewart says that provincial leaders have requested data before creating legislation, and that Neighbours Speak Up plans to present that to the House next month.

"The minister's been talking about how he's looking to see some data. Well, he's going to see some," he says.

The group hopes to see public consultation from HRM soon to begin the process of ensuring short-term rentals are better regulated.

"We're wondering when this work is going to be done," Stewart asks. "We'd like to hear some plans about how they're going to consult with the public on this. People want to know."



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Victoria  Walton

About the Author: Victoria Walton

Victoria is HalifaxToday.ca's weekend editor and a Halifax-based freelancer. She is originally from Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley.
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