Man shot during wild party at home posted on Airbnb, VRBO
Police were called to a residential area near Bayview Ave. and Steeles Ave. E. early Sunday morning.
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Willowdale’s Glenelia Ave. used to be so quiet residents once called it “the street that time forgot.” Those days are over.
The calm of the leafy suburban street was shattered early Sunday morning by a loud party punctuated by several gunshots that left a man with a life-threatening wound to his head.
The shooting occurred in a five-bedroom house that has been regularly offered up on popular rental websites for travellers, leaving residents of this dead-end street dealing with boisterous renters for almost two years.
No incident frightened them more than Saturday night, when 5 Glenelia, a two-storey home at the corner of Bayview Ave., filled with what residents estimate was 75 to 100 young people.
“The music was so loud, it was shaking the foundations,” said Bernie Gillett, 58, who has lived on Glenelia since 1982.
At about 4:30 a.m. Sunday, neighbours heard four or five shots ring out from inside the home. People then ran out of the house in a panic.
“They were screaming and crying everywhere,” Gillett said. “They didn’t know where to run; it was confusion.”
After police arrived, Gillett and other neighbours watched the wounded young man being wheeled to an ambulance on a stretcher.
“It’s sickening,” she said. “I don’t think that poor boy’s going to make it. If this boy dies, it’s a homicide.”
Police Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook said a man with a “life threatening” wound to the head was rushed to hospital. No one else was injured.
Douglas-Cook said police have no suspects. But one neighbour told Torstar News Service she gave police her home’s security video, which captured images from a party that often spilled onto the street. Other neighbours gave police the numbers of licence plates they noted.
In the past, the home had been rented out through Airbnb. Resident Jan Morrissey complained to Airbnb on Sunday. The company responded in an email, stating the home had not been rented through its service.
“Although it does not involve an Airbnb reservation or guest, we are still glad to hear you and the hosts are safe,” the Airbnb email said.
The home was also advertised on the Vacation Rentals by Owner website. VRBO did not respond to emails requesting information.
Diana Tian, 54, said she would not have bought her home in the comfortable neighbourhood 18 months ago if she had known the one next to hers was being used as a commercial property.
Tian said she first called police shortly after midnight because she couldn’t sleep. Other neighbours called police at least four more times before the shooting began. Residents said police showed up at least once — at about 2:30 a.m. — and told the revelers to keep it down.
Resident Peter Hopperton said the problem is a lack of bylaws governing short-term rentals.
“Until we have bylaws it will be a free-for-all,” said Hopperton, 62, a Glenelia resident for 27 years.
The residents have been complaining to the city and Coun. David Shiner for at least two years. Shiner, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, told Torstar last year that the provincial government needs to give the city more enforcement powers.
The home is owned by a numbered Ontario company. The VRBO site lists a woman named Helen as the contact for the home. Requests for comment left on the voicemail of the number provided were not answered.
A year ago, Helen told Torstar's Vanessa Lu that the home was “not for parties. It’s for vacations.” She insisted at the time that she had never heard of complaints from neighbours.
Helen said she rents to groups no larger than 12, and if the renters are young, insists they make no outside noise after 11 p.m. “We are very careful,” she said.