City ordered to react against illegal accommodation

sylvain-beausejourThe operators of tourist lodges in Sherbrooke are fed up of being alone in the fight against illegal accommodation summit and the municipality to take action to stop it.

“We need the City put her panties. The City of Paris took a stand, the City of San Francisco took a stand and the Plateau in Montreal is about to do. There must be a political intervention, “argues Ronald Gougeon, which operates the Bed & breakfast Les Matins d’Antoine.

“There must be concrete actions to resolve the situation. We want to put pressure on the municipality to notify her people, “in turn argues manage Auberge Marquis de Montcalm, Sylvain Beauséjour.

The two men are the spokesman of a group currently comprising six other operators or the Hotel Times Sherbrooke, lodges Charmes de Provence, Ile-de-Garde and the Heart of the emerald, and the Villa Marco Polo the Cedars Motel.

According to monthly data compiled by Ronald Gougeon over the past four years, the supply of accommodation has increased drastically in Sherbrooke because of websites like Airbnb, melting incomes houses legally constituted. In just one year, the number of illegal sites have jumped more than 100%, from 53 in February 2015 to about 140 now in the Sherbrooke area. Ridership at Les Matins d’Antoine halved in 2015 compared to the average of the past 11 years. At its inception, Mr. Beauséjour said to have lost 20% of net profits since 2010 “and that would probably double if I was not with referral sites. ”

“We can not fight against it, adds Mr. Gougeon. If the City does not matter, we will be forced many to close within four or five years, me. It is no longer possible to operate well. It is 12 houses in Sherbrooke, there are ten times more illegal. With taxes, the tax on accommodation and the costs we have to pay, I have 35 to $ 40 a night to $ 100; it is an unequal struggle. How do you want me to rent a room $ 55? ”

“We want all together only play on the same ice with the same rules for all players.”

They have repeatedly denounced the operators for the past three years (see other text) to the municipality. This however does not seem to care.

“We want all together only play on the same ice with the same rules for all players. Or, remove us our trade taxes, “said Mr. Beauséjour, who thinks claim a refund of trade taxes it has paid in the past five years the City of Sherbrooke.

“We are sensitive to this because everyone is in the same boat, sharing the general manager of the Hotel Times Sylvie Pomerleau. It all contributes to attract tourists to the region, but it is they who benefit. We need everyone working in the same direction. ”

Operators argue they are not the only ones to lose the changes and these are all people who will eventually suffer.

“That’s $ 1,000 of additional taxes it cost me annually to operate my house. If it is said that there are 120 illegal on the territory of Sherbrooke is $ 120,000 of taxes that the city loses. And if you want to be conservative and they say they rent a room each week, it’s 6240 nights, or $ 18,700 simply by lodging taxes not collected, not including taxes and other. There is only Sherbrooke, imagine for all of Quebec. We already have a hard time to pay for our public services, it will be after what Uber and Airbnb? ”

M.Gougeon believes nevertheless would not be so difficult to solve the problem if the authorities bothered to apply the penalties provided by law.

“We can say what we want, in Quebec, the law is clear, clean and precise. You can do the rental 31 days. All that is down, it’s illegal if you are not accredited. If it was part of the sites (like Airbnb), they rented rooms and they then presented with a notice or a fine, it would make many think.

Lax?

If the City of Sherbrooke ensures that it keeps an eye on illegal accommodation, we can excuse the tenants of tourist accommodation establishments impatient.

For three years, Sylvain Beauséjour and Ronald Gougeon denounced, among others from the municipality, the activities that lent itself at Au Frog Jump, located on Wright Street, Sherbrooke, who rents two rooms in the night, the week or month.

The owners of the allegedly wrongdoing establishment make the announcement on Airbnb, but on Kijiji.

“We first reported the Frog Jump, because he was identified as a tourist facility on Commerce Sherbrooke and he was not certified by the CITQ (Tourism Industry Corporation of Quebec),” says Ronald Gougeon.

After several complaints, the operators of the Frog Jumps received notice from the municipality in 2014 as what they had to comply, they would have finally made in 2015 with Tourisme Québec, which gave them two stars. However, the zoning established by Wright Street … Sherbrooke, does not allow commercial accommodation. On the tax bill of 2016 Frog Jump In, no amount is also taken for a portion of the housing which would be reserved for commercial use.

“This is our mistake, admitted Jeanne Bégin, the Division Chief of permits and inspection. In recent months, the CITQ requires future operators to sign a certificate of compliance by the city and in this case, we should not have to sign it. ”

“It remains an individual and isolated cases,” she took care to note.

When contacted by The Tribune on April 8, Ms. Bégin reported that of the Frog Jumps operators have finally received a verbal notice and a letter “somewhere this week,” giving them 15 days to stop renting rooms and that no fine was envisaged. Sunday, it was still possible to make reservations in the future.

Last year, Councillor Marc Denault had however indicated that the Planning Committee had entrusted Commerce Sherbrooke task to analyze the situation to determine whether it was worth making an intervention. Trade in Sherbrooke, no one remember that such analysis was commissioned.

When asked about the steps taken by the City to counter the illegal lodging, Ms. Bégin said that the situation was under observation, but we proceeded further in response to complaints, which is not enough in the eyes of the Grouping accommodation.

“We lose the business. Year after year, there is less busy, but fixed prices remain the same. We do not drop my taxes because my income drop, “said Mr. Beauséjour.

“This is just one example among many, the Frog Jump, argues Ronald Gougeon. There’s laxime to the city and the situation is urgent. We have to find a way to put them all together to remove illegal accommodation. ”

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