Heather Watson, candidate for mayor of Douro-Dummer, talks about short-term rentals and arenas
Enforcement, taxation and licensing are three avenues. Douro-Dummer Township mayoral hopeful Heather Watson plans to explore ways to limit inconvenient short-term rentals.
The issue, a hot topic that municipalities across the country are grappling with, was among several topics discussed at a recent public meeting at the Douro Community Center hosted by Watson, the current township councilor for the Douro district. .
The most common concerns about Airbnb-style rentals — from complaints about partying and noise to parking and litter issues — have been heard.
In a later interview with The Examiner, Watson noted that not all rental operators are the same.
“We talked about how there are two sides to this coin,” Watson said.
“There are certainly operators who effectively run hotels in the neighborhoods, but there are also other short-term rental hosts who still live in their homes and rent rooms or a cabin on rural property…use them to increase their income. »
Ultimately, Watson says she opposes the “commercialization of neighborhoods.”
“In the short term, as a municipality, we need to tighten our nuisance bylaws,” she said. “So the questions arise: who is going to pay for the application?”
That’s when taxation — particularly an accommodation tax — would be a beneficial tool, she said.
The final piece of Watson’s puzzle, licensing, would help separate the rule-abiding operators from the irresponsible, she said. Annual license renewals would allow the municipality to ensure that hosts follow rules and regulations, she said.
Questions have also been raised about the canton’s two existing unique ice rinks – the Douro Community Center and the Warsaw Community Center – and what the municipality can do to improve its leisure facilities to meet the needs of the community. .
Douro Minor Hockey, a large user group, suggests the municipality could potentially operate more efficiently if a second ice surface was added to the Douro Community Center, making it a two-pad arena, according to Watson.
“Someone also suggested that if maybe we can’t keep the ice at the community center in Warsaw – if it doesn’t make sense to do so – we could consider setting up a space for indoor grass where people can play football in the winter; walk on tracks and do other recreational activities there,” Watson said.
These possibilities are part of a larger question: how can the canton make the most of the Warsaw facility if all the ice is located in one place, the Douro Community Center?
“I’ve been working with a group of Douro Minor Hockey and community volunteers to see if that’s what the rest of the community cares about so we can start putting together some sort of plan not just for the community center in the Douro, but also for the Warsaw Community Center, where we are able to operate more efficiently; modernize these operations and serve the community well,” said Watson.
“If we can expand the ice, put in a dual rig and do it in a way where there’s a good business case, the demand is there and we’re able to sustain it and get a return on that investment, so that’s something I would support.
On the issue of the environment and climate change, including extreme weather events such as the derecho experienced regionally on May 21, Watson pledged to follow a similar proactive approach.
She said she would make efforts to support the introduction of tiny homes and the use of sustainable materials.
On the level of preparedness, referring to the May 21 storm, Watson said it was important to ensure first responders and firefighters are equipped with the tools necessary to act quickly and effectively.