MONTREAL — Police responded to a rowdy party at an Airbnb in western Quebec over the weekend that was a violation of public health rules, but the gathering was so large they say they can’t break it.
Nine busloads of people disembarked at a newly built rental cottage in the quiet town of La Pache, on the banks of the Gatineau River.
Police, who were called after a 911 call about the noise, estimated there were 500 people at the party on Saturday night.
The province has limited gatherings to 10 indoors and 20 outdoors, but police say there were just too many to hand over $1,500 tickets.
“Unfortunately, we had to positively identify like all those individuals who had a piece of ID, which was physically impossible to do that evening,” Sgt. Martin Fornell, spokesman for the MRC des Collins-de-l’Ottois.
“There was a security concern for the officers. Against half a dozen officers, you know, 500 people – we don’t want to add oil to the fire.
Fornell said the party was held in a new cottage that had been built over the past few months and was the largest illegal gathering he has heard of in the area since the start of the pandemic.
Officials monitored the incident until 2 a.m., when party-goers boarded school buses to return to Ottawa, he said.
According to Fornell, most of the illegal gathering officers in the cottage country in western Quebec have been conducted on short-term rentals from services like Airbnb, adding that the rental platforms make it difficult to verify how guests will use the property.
“They’re lying about it. They’re saying… ‘Oh, we’re going to have two pairs, three pairs at most.’ So it’s difficult for the owner to validate that information and make sure they’re not leaving with nine school buses and 500 people,” Fornell said.
Police say their investigation is not over and the city may issue fines later.
In a statement, Airbnb said it was “shocked by the blatant disregard for this host’s home and neighborhood” and that the party was held without the owner’s knowledge or consent.
“We are currently working with this host to support them through our host guarantee process. We have removed this guest from the platform,” the company said.
La Pache Mayor Guillaume Lamoureux’s office has not responded to Granthshala Montreal’s request for comment.