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Winners vs. losers: Ottawa’s Airbnb crackdown

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Potentially hundreds of short-term rental hosts are on the cusp of being strong-armed out of Ottawa’s accommodation market as the municipal government moves closer to adopting new restrictions.

The community and protective services committee on Friday will be asked to endorse a proposal to heavily regulate short-term accommodations, many of which are advertised on platforms like Airbnb and Expedia. Council on Nov. 27 is scheduled to vote on whatever the committee recommends.

The most controversial regulation for short-term rentals proposed by staff is banning people from renting homes in which they don’t live.

Councillors will hear both sides of the debate when public delegates line up at the microphone during the committee meeting.

With every policy decision made by city council, there will be winners and losers.

Winner: Hotels

Travellers who have been renting homes not occupied by the owners for short stays would need to turn to Ottawa’s hotel market for accommodations.

Steve Ball, president of the 55-member Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association, said the city’s proposal “mostly got it right” when it comes to regulating short-term rentals.

Hotel operators aren’t against Airbnb when it comes to the company’s original intention of allowing people to make available their own homes for short-term accommodations, Ball said.

“What they don’t like is the commercialization of Airbnb and the ghost hotel concept,” Ball said.

Ball said he believes the per-night costs of hotel rooms in Ottawa-Gatineau are on par with what hosts offer on Airbnb. According to Ball, the average hotel room rate for the first nine months of 2019 was $152.

Loser: Investor hosts

The city’s proposed recommendations probably make the investor hosts — those property owners who rent homes for short terms, but don’t live there — the biggest losers.

They have purchased homes or condo units specifically for short-term rental income and city hall is about to pull the rug out from under them.

Mayor Jim Watson pointed to the hosts who haven’t run safe short-term rental properties, saying “bad actors have ruined it for everyone.”

“Those people who bought a property now can sell that property because the real estate market is doing very well in Ottawa and I don’t have sympathy for them because it’s not as if they’re going to be out any money,” Watson said, adding that those owners have the option of selling the homes or renting the homes for long terms.

Winner: Resident hosts

Eliminating potentially more than 1,000 short-term rental units from the market gives a leg up to hotels, but also to people who rent out their own homes while briefly out of town.

The proposed regulations wouldn’t stop people from using their primary residences for short-term rentals.

Those hosts could get more calls for accommodations for when they’re away — that is, if visitors don’t mind renting lived-in homes for their short stays in Ottawa.

Loser: Short-term rental customers

Removing competition from the short-term accommodation market will give visitors fewer choices.

Short-term rentals not occupied by the owner often offer the same amenities as homes, like full kitchens and laundry.

While Ball notes there are long-term-stay hotels that offer those kinds of amenities, the removal of potentially hundreds of short-term rental units will narrow the selection for tourists and business travellers.

Winner: Renters and house hunters

The city assumes that once real-estate investors are pushed out of the short-term rental market, more homes would be available for purchase or long-term rentals.

Ottawa’s residential rental vacancy rate is below two per cent. PRISM Economics and Analysis, doing work for the City of Ottawa, estimated apartment rents have increased by 7.8 per cent and house rents have increased by 11.3 per cent between 2016 and 2018.

City consultants identified 1,236 homes perpetually on the short-term rental market in 2018. The units could be made available, but it depends what those owners do with their assets.

Ottawa realtor John Castle expects that the proposed regulations would have little impact on the local real estate market. He believes there’s an “equilibrium” in the market demand now and wonders if the units made available after city hall regulations would only feed into the cooled part of the housing market.

“My overall impression of what’s going to happen is, if there is a change, I think it will be small and I don’t think it will be very long term,” Castle said.

Loser: Spinoff businesses

Platforms like Airbnb, which takes a commission from hosts, obviously stand to lose if there are fewer short-term accommodations to advertise in Ottawa.

There are other businesses that have piggy-backed off the success of Airbnb.

There are property managers and cleaning companies who will lose homes in their portfolios if council blocks investment properties from being in the short-term rental market.

Winner: Residential neighbourhoods

At city hall, the most common reason cited for regulation is the need to protect neighbourhoods from problem short-term renters and hosts.

Watson said the tipping point in Ottawa was a shooting in Nepean last month at a short-term rental property.

“I suspect some (short-term accommodations) are very well-run, but we have to come up with some protection for people who live in these neighbourhoods who knowingly bought into a (low-density) residential zone and all of a sudden have a commercial enterprise next to them,” Watson said.

Condo boards not thrilled with unit owners running commercial operations in the buildings would also have their problems solved.

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Ottawa Book Expo 2020 – Authors, Publishers look forward to a top-notch Canadian book fair

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Diversity has always been a complex issue, no matter where you look.Case in point, world-famous writer, Stephen King, has recently come under criticism for his views on diversity. The best-selling author had stated, “I would never consider diversity in matters of art, only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.” Many criticized the novelist as being out of touch and “ignorant,” but one cannot deny that King’s opinions on diversity, mirror the thoughts of a whole lot of people in the creative industry.

The Toronto Book Expo is coming back in 2020, with a multi-cultural concept that aims to include marginalized authors.  The Expo intends to celebrate literary works of diverse cultural backgrounds, and the entire literary community in Canada is expectant. Book-lovers and writers alike, are invited to three days of uninhibited literary celebration where diverse cultural works will be prioritized. At the event, authors will be allowed to share their culture with a broad audience. The audience will be there specifically to purchase multi-cultural works.

Multicultural literary expos do not come every day. In Canada, there is a noticeable lack of literary events celebrating other cultures. This leads to a significantly lower amount of cultural diversity in the industry. The Toronto Book Expo would aim at giving more recognition to these marginalized voices. Understandably, more recognizable work will be prioritized.

The Toronto Book Expo is making a statement that diversity is needed in the literary community. The statement is truly motivating, especially if you consider the fact that this could mean more culturally diverse works of literature.

There is a lot of noticeable cultural ignorance in literature. This is an issue that needs to be addressed and books are one of the best means of improving multi-cultural diversity in literature. The Toronto Book Expo is going to fully utilize books to fight ignorance in the literary industry.

Real progress cannot be made if there is a substantial amount of ignorant people in the industry. In spite of advancements made in education in recent years, there is still a considerable percentage of adults who remain unable to read and write.The Toronto Book Expo aims to bring awareness to social literacy issues such as illiteracy.

It is important to uphold high literacy levels in the community and to support those who are uneducated. A thriving society cannot be achieved if the community is not able to read their civil liberties and write down their grievances.

The major foundation of a working and dynamic society is entrenched in literature. Literature offers us an understandingof the changes being made to our community.

The event would go on for three days at three different venues. Day 1 would hold at the York University Student & Convention Centre at 15 Library Lane on March 19. Day 2 would be held at the Bram and BlumaAppel Salon Facility on the second floor of the main Toronto Reference Library near Yonge and Bloor Streets in downtown Toronto on March 21 and day 3 of the expo would take place at the internationally famous Roy Thomson Hall.

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A Week In Ottawa, ON, On A $75,300 Salary

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Welcome to Money Diaries, where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.Attention, Canadians! We’re featuring Money Diaries from across Canada on a regular basis, and we want to hear from you. Submit your Money Diary here.Today: a biologist working in government who makes $75,300 per year and spends some of her money this week on a bathing suit. Occupation: Biologist
Industry: Government
Age: 27
Location: Ottawa, ON
Salary: $75,300
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,930
Gender Identity: Woman

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Ottawa doctor pens nursery rhyme to teach proper handwashing

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An Ottawa doctor has turned to song to teach kids — and adults, for that matter — how to wash their hands to prevent the spread of germs.

Dr. Nisha Thampi, an infectious disease physician at CHEO, the area’s children’s hospital, created a video set to the tune of Frère Jacques and featuring the six-step handwashing method recommended by the World Health Organization.

Thampi’s 25-second rendition, which was co-authored by her daughter and Dr. Yves Longtin, an infectious disease specialist at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, is featured in the December issue of The BMJ, or British Medical Journal. 

Thampi said as an infectious disease physician and a mother of two, she thinks a lot about germs at home and school.

“I was trying to find a fun way to remember the stuff,” she said. “There are six steps that have been codified by the World Health Organization, but they’re complex and hard to remember.” 

Thampi said she came up with the idea to rewrite the lyrics to the nursery rhyme on World Hand Hygiene Day in May, when she was thinking about how to help people remember the technique. 

She said studies have shown that handwashing is effective in reducing the risk of diarrhea-related illnesses and respiratory diseases. 

“So I’d say it’s one of the most important and easiest things we can do.”

The video includes such often-overlooked steps as “wash the back,” “twirl the tips around” and “thumb attack,” which pays special attention to the first digit.

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