Short-term rentals in Niagara-on-the-Lake have been given the go-ahead to reopen.
Following a change in provincial guidelines, the Town of NOTL this week confirmed short-term rentals can operate “in a similar manner as to hotels and motels, subject to compliance with all other regulations and/or industry guidelines.”
“All operators must ensure their services meet physical distancing requirements and all other provincial emergency orders and public health guidelines in effect,” the town said in a news release.
The town closed short-term rentals April 6, in response to the provincial emergency order to close non-essential businesses. Operators have until June 30 to pay their annual licence fees if they have not done so already.
Niagara-on-the-Lake Bed and Breakfast Association president David Levesque, who said he won't be opening his B&B immediately, noted his organization has set up some extensive guidelines as well for members to follow.
Other short-term rental owners shared relief that they can finally operate again after months of inactivity.
Jason Clements, owner of Piper’s Getaway, described business the past two months as “non-existent.”
“All we’ve been getting is people calling us and canceling and a lot of people getting upset that they had to cancel,” said Clements.
He outlined some of the opening procedures put in place in preparation for the long-awaited renters.
*Read David Levesque's letter to B&B owners on page 6.
“We have to declutter the houses. A lot of times you have a lot of pillows on the couches and beds to make them look nice. You have to remove a lot of those soft surfaces and put hand sanitizers in the houses, a lot of sanitizing and disinfecting,” said Clements.
While new measures in place in short-term rental properties are comforting to guests, townspeople hope that tourists will follow similar measures when visiting town.
NOTL resident Nancy Buretic said she is glad short-term rental properties can reopen and bring visitors back to town, but hopes people continue to work hard to keep others safe.
“You have to see both sides, there’s pros and cons. You have to rely on people to make intelligent, smart, safe decisions,” said Buretic.
“I think what could work is walking down the street and wearing a mask and going into a store no different than we do. If you’re doing that I don’t see a problem. As far as groceries go, I think if there were numbers left for grocery pickup and takeout menus (in the rental) that could eliminate a lot of exposure,” she said.
Despite all the possible measures that could be put into place though, some short-term rental owners are still planning on their doors to remain closed.
Richard Patrick, a property owner from NOTL, said he won't reopen yet, calling it still “very risky.”
Despite time dedicated to clean and sanitize, owners still face “risk if you miss something,” Patrick said.