New rules on short-term rentals along Lake Winnipeg take aim at partiers | CBC News

New rules are being enforced to curtail partying and impose accountability on those who rent out short-term stays in cottage country along the west shore of Lake Winnipeg.

As of April 1, operators of short-term rentals in the rural municipality of Gimli must have a $200 licence for each unit they provide. The licence will have to be renewed annually. 

If there are multiple short-term rental units in a building, a licence is required for each one, even if they’re single rooms.

The bylaw officially went into effect on Jan. 1, but enforcement was deferred until April 1 to give operators time to comply.

It also limits the number of people who can stay in any short-term rental — only two per bedroom — and quiet hours are in effect between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. No other vehicles, tents or trailers can be used as extra accommodation on the property.

A woman stands in front of a viking statue
Coun. Thora Palson says the new rules will help ensure accountability and ‘good citizenship.’ (x.com/Icelandicfest)

“During the last election [2022], it certainly came across very clearly that many of our residents were concerned with the short-term rental industry in our community,” RM of Gimli Coun. Thora Palson told CBC Manitoba Information Radio host Faith Fundal.

Many of those concerns were around excessive noise, garbage and cars related to large gatherings or parties, she said.

Council launched a public consultation process, which included an online survey and open house, before the bylaw was introduced in November 2023. It went through some more tweaks following additional public consultation before being passed in December.

The regulations apply to all short-term rental properties in the RM, which runs from the northern edge of Winnipeg Beach up to Silver Harbour and includes dozens of communities in between. The bylaw defines a short-term stay as 30 days or fewer.

“Essentially it’s putting in that responsibility of good citizenship into operating a short-term rental,” Palson said.

The RM council also passed an Accommodation Tax Bylaw at the same time, which imposes a five per cent tax every time a unit is rented. That one requires provincial approval before it can be implemented, and Palson does not know when that might happen.

“That is something that is still in progress,” she said.

A graphic showing a geographical area alongside a large lake
The rural municipality of Gimli runs from the northern edge of Winnipeg Beach up to Silver Harbour and includes dozens of communities in between. (Google Maps)

All revenue from licences and any fines from non-compliance will be used to promote local tourism, recreation and leisure initiatives and improve the municipal waterfront areas, the RM said in a news release. The accommodation tax will also be funnelled into that once it is in place, Palson said.

Lisa Shaw, who operates KALS Vacation Rentals with her wife, Kim Arnold, applauds the new rules.

“We welcomed it because we are creating our business and our life here, and we weren’t afraid to be part of the process. In fact, we wanted to be part of the process, to be part of the solution. There are some real concerns that needed to be addressed,” she said.

“And I feel that the council really listened.”

Statue of a viking
The viking statue in Gimli pays tribute to the area’s Icelandic settlers. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

Shaw, who is the new president of Spruce Sands Cottage Association, said she and Arnold own two rental properties and manage four other ones, most in Spruce Sands but also in Loni Beach and along a golf course in Pelican Beach.

The new regulations boil down to making operators accountable, she said, with rules requiring the owner or designate to be available 24/7 for any issues regarding the rental.

In the past, there were issues with absentee owners “and who to call when the guests at the short-term rental are not following regulations and being respectful to the community,” Shaw said.

All rental units also must comply with Manitoba building codes and national fire codes.

Shaw said the licence fee is nominal, but by putting it into a fund that improves the area and encourages tourism, the returns are far more valuable.

“I’m not going to be afraid of growing and prospering and paying taxes to give back to the community,” she said.

“What business doesn’t get big and doesn’t pay taxes? Why should short-term rental people be any different? It’s not out of line.”

The community is home for her and Arnold, not just a business.

“We get to show off our favourite place in the world — Lake Winnipeg, the sandy beaches, Gimli and lake life — and we meet the nicest people … who don’t just stay in our cottages, they actually embrace and explore [the region].”

And there’s a lot of take in, she said.

“There’s a thriving community with the Icelandic history, which is fascinating, and Lake Winnipeg, which is the 10th largest freshwater lake in the world. It’s an inland ocean,” Shaw said.

“We’re building our business and life here and we couldn’t be happier.”

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button