Ontario cottagers feeling 'friction' with year-round residents
WINGHAM, ONT. -- Robert Foster and his wife came to their Point Clark, Ont. cottage last Friday, and are staying for the next several weeks.
“We have a ton of work to do here. I’ve got a garage roof that’s leaking. I have a roofer coming. I have a lot of construction going on. I have to go and make sure this thing is taken care of, because this is a big investment for us,” he says.
Foster, like many cottagers, has been told by government officials to stay away from their second homes, to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
The Municipality of Huron-Kinloss, where Foster’s cottage is located, went so far as to create an emergency order barring cottagers from turning on their water.
Foster, who is also president of the Point Clark Beach Association, says he was glad to see that water ban lifted early last week.
“We actually had a legal ruling, basically stating it was not constitutional what had gone on with that. We had a lawyer suggest we take it up the chain to have it reversed, but we weren’t going to do that, the mayor was doing what he thought was appropriate,” says Foster.
But all the messages to cottagers from the prime minister on down to stay home has created animosity between seasonal and non-seasonal residents.
A few weeks ago, this sign appeared in Port Elgin, saying “F*** Off Cottagers.” It was condemned by the local mayor, but shows the frustration brewing in cottage country.
“It certainly has caused a few issues within our municipality as far as those who have these as secondary homes, and those how live here year round. So, it’s created a bit of friction, to say the least,” says Foster.
While the message of stay away, unless it’s really, really necessary, remains the same. Shoreline mayors, who would normally be pitching their communities to visitors this time of year, are now trying to stem the growing tide of animosity between their full-time and part-time residents.
John Grace is the mayor of Goderich.
“We’ll welcome you with open arms, later on, and have in the past, and will in the future, but not today. This is really about keeping the community safe. We’ve done a real good job of that in this area. Let’s keep it that way. Let’s slow down the travel. We ask that people that would typically come here for a day trip or cottagers, please not yet. Soon, but not yet."
All beaches in Grey-Bruce are closed at this time, under to a special order from the Grey-Bruce medical officer of health.
But over the Victoria Day weekend 12 people were charged with disobeying that new rule in Sauble Beach.