Neighbours want Nepean 'ghost hotel' shut down after 2 men shot

Two men are in hospital after being shot on Benson Street in Nepean Sunday morning. Police say the home was being rented on Airbnb.

Police believe the shooting took place during an Airbnb 'after-party' on Benson Street

Mandy and Rob Hanlon want the city to do more to shut down short-term rentals at a property beside their Nepean home after two men were shot early on the morning of Oct. 20, 2019. (Jean-François Poudrier/Radio-Canada)

Some residents of one suburban Nepean street are urging the city to do more to shut down a "ghost hotel" after a shooting Sunday morning sent two men to hospital.

Investigators believe the two-storey brick home on Benson Street was being rented on Airbnb, and said the shooting took place at 6 a.m. Sunday during a possible "after-party."

A 19-year-old Ottawa man was in hospital in critical condition, and another man was in hospital in stable condition with a gunshot wound to the leg, according to Sgt. Josh Pulfer with the Ottawa Police Service's guns and gang unit.

Police do not yet know how the victims knew each other.

Investigators said they were working to track down the homeowner, but residents told CBC News the owner lives overseas — and they've been asking the city for months to shut down short-term rentals at the home.

"People regularly are renting it, and they park over on the lawn ... and they're noisy at night," Alison Way, who lives nearby.

"It's one thing to have parties, but it's another thing to have someone being shot."

Ottawa police say two men were shot at around 6 a.m. Sunday, and they're trying to track down the home's owner. (Hillary Johnstone/CBC)

'They're getting away with it'

Mandy and Rob Hanlon live beside the house, and said that for more than a year they've been pressuring the city to intervene — even sending a petition with one hundred signatures from nearby residents. 

"The house is next to our house. We have four granddaughters that visit and stay over regularly. Last thing we need is people shooting guns next door to us," said Rob Hanlon.

Mandy Hanlon said they've been sending the city photos of "all the comings and goings" over the past 15 months, and she even made a fake booking to prove it was an Airbnb.

"Sent the link to the city. They've got it all. But apparently they have a law in the books with no teeth. So they can't enforce it. They sent two cease-and-desist orders that have come back 'undeliverable'. So nothing happens because [the owner is] overseas," she said.

"You cannot run a ghost hotel in this neighbourhood at our zoning. You're not allowed to .... and they're doing it, and they're getting away with it."

Alison Way says people 'regularly' rent the home on Benson Street, and sometimes cause disturbances. ( Jean-Francois Poudrier/Radio-Canada)

Bylaw charges pending, says councillor

Knoxdale-Merivale Coun. Keith Egli, who represents the area, said he's been in touch with the Hanlons and understands their frustration.

Egli told CBC News that bylaw charges are pending against the homeowner, but he did not say what those charges would be. 

"The evidence is gathered, and it's currently sitting with our legal prosecuting team," Egli said.

The councillor also said the city has been putting together a report with recommendations on short-term rentals which will be made public next month. 

CBC asked Airbnb Sunday whether it could confirm the address on Benson Street was a property listed on the short-term rental site.

Airbnb spokesperson Lindsey Scully said they're continuing to gather information.

"The safety of our community is our priority and we are urgently investigating this incident to understand if any Airbnb guests were involved," Scully wrote in an email to CBC.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to contact the Ottawa Police Service's guns and gangs unit.