Cottage life is dying in HH | Bancroft this week

February 1, 2022

For the editor,
You may remember when the chalet opened on the weekend of May 24 and closed on Thanksgiving Day in early October. The cottage was decidedly rustic and although there was a wood stove, the three seasons were always a challenge. I remember one weekend in late October opening the back door and seeing an ice cube hanging from the kitchen faucet. Almost everything about the cottage, from the cedar post foundation to the water system, was decidedly basic and not built to year-round living standards. Yet we have endured the challenges and many still do today…the idea of ​​a getaway in a more natural setting held great appeal 100 years ago, and still does today. But the site of the chalet evolves; just like the legislation at the provincial level … did you know that you cannot build a residence today without a heating system certified according to Ontario
Building code?
This model of a rustic, rural waterfront summer spot has been changing for years, but in addition to provincial legislation, COVID-19 has accelerated the change dramatically.

Take the communication. I remember a time when the only service we had was mail delivery, which was daily. Then group line phone, fuzzy TV service if you had a very high antenna. Today, people want quality television, Internet and telephone service as their basic service.

And demand for waterfront properties over the past year has skyrocketed. On our lake we had a recent sale of a listed property
to $1.950 million in three days.
So what do I mean by cottage life is dying? Never have people been more interested in non-urban property…and that should be a very good thing for us at HH.

Consider the municipal responsibility to understand and respond to the needs of their constituents. Our municipality has not fulfilled its obligations to follow societal trends; the facts are indisputable. Until 2016, the maximum boathouse allowed was 450 square feet, when it was eventually increased to 600 in response to pressure from a lake. You would be hard pressed to buy a new boat today that will fit. Our land use regulations are a hodgepodge of the five former cantons brought together in 2000 from legislation that was then 30 years outdated. And HH has never done research to see if they have a land use package that meets voters’ needs. Many of our roads are not
maintained by the municipality in the winter, but they have several year-round properties which have provided a huge tax revenue boost to HH. Owners are obligated to provide private servicing. HH has simply failed to live up to its responsibility to reflect the needs of voters who wish to use the property year-round. I could talk about the unenforced buffer zones, the recent failed waterfront bylaw, garages and other outbuildings, land cover issues, community facilities, fire services…but I won’t.
This advice inhibits our ability to compete for development with our neighbors who have understood how important this planning is…and they have taken steps to get up to speed.
And this year is an election year at HH and this council would do well to consider how it plans to realign its approach with the wishes of voters, other riverside communities with whom we compete for development and environmental planning of quality for a lake-based economy.

Our municipal neighbors from Muskoka to Rideau Lakes did. Our provincial government has done this through regular updates to the Ontario Building Code and its Provincial Policy Statement. After long delays, even the county has updated
their official plan in 2018.
Why can’t our board?

Bill Cheshire
Baptist Lake

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