• Hunter Cresswell

MRC cops bust Tulip Valley party

$83K in fines given out


Cops busted a party at an Airbnb in Chelsea over the weekend and gave out $83,000 in fines for violating COVID-19 health rules that prohibit gatherings.


MRC des Collines Police Sgt. Martin Fournel said neighbours reported the party in Tulip Valley to police shortly before 2 a.m. on Oct. 25.


He wouldn’t disclose the name of the property owner or the street address of the home.


“We got a similar call on Friday night in the same area, but our officer was not able to pinpoint the residence,” Fournel said during a phone interview on Oct. 27, indicating that the party may have raged two nights in a row.


When officers arrived on scene, there were about 25 vehicles in the home’s driveway. The dozen responding officers were at the home until about 4 a.m. because it had to be completely cleared, since all private indoor and outdoor gatherings are prohibited in this MRC because it’s at the maximum alert level for COVID-19.


All 83 party-goers were fined $1,000 each. According to Fournel, they were all college or university-level international students from as far away as Ottawa, Montreal, Trois-Rivières and Sherbrooke.


“Now they’re going to go back and maybe spread the virus,” he said.


Fournel said some people were found hiding from police in parked cars and more escaped into the woods.


“We learned from local residents through some social media, some said, ‘Hey, I saw people running through my backyard.’”


The person who rented the home wasn’t even there when police arrived, Fournel said.


When asked if the owner of the home could face punishment from police, he said: “It’s not excluded. It’s an ongoing investigation.”


Fournel added that Airbnb may suspend the owner or host’s renting privileges.


On Aug. 20, Airbnb announced a ban on all parties and events at listings worldwide.


La Vallée Restaurant and Motel owner Daniel Fassen said this isn’t the first time he’s heard of issues with parties at short-term rental units.


“All I know is that all the cities and municipalities are having problems,” he said during a Oct. 27 phone interview. “I have friends who live next to these places and it’s just maddening for them … The people who live near these places suffer.”


A Kirk’s Ferry short-term rental home that neighbours dubbed the “party palace” made local and regional headlines last year after residents brought complaints about the house en masse to a Chelsea council meeting. The Musie Loop home has since sold.


Fournel said the police have received “a few” calls about parties in short-term

rentals over the past year across the entire MRC.


“But right now, because of COVID, it’s a huge thing. It’s not only disturbing the peace, it’s a health risk.”

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