(Supplied by towns of Gravenhurst, Huntsville and Bracebridge)
With seasonal residents making their way to cottage country – Muskoka area Mayors are confident they will abide by public health measures.
In a teleconference call on Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford had a productive conversation with Mayors across Ontario about seasonal residents heading here already and in the coming weeks.
In an interview with MyMuskokaNow, Huntsville’s Mayor Karin Terziano said looking ahead to the long weekend; they are encouraging people to adhere to the province’s advice.
“If you have to come up, we understand that,” she said. “Pack your supplies, drive from your door in the city to your door here. Don’t bring friends and extra family. Don’t think about having bonfires and things like that – there is a fire ban. It’s not your typical May 24th party weekend.”
Terziano noted with most amenities and facilities closed to the public, there is not much to do and those who have no reason to come up – should avoid doing so.
Gravenhurst Mayor Paul Kelly noted while he understands the frustration of full-time residents, there is no likelihood that the province will prohibit cottagers from coming here.
If they do come, Kelly said they should bring provisions and follow all the health practices.
“People are going to do what they feel they need to do, which they are already doing whether it’s Huntsville, Bracebridge, Muskoka Lakes, Georgian Bay Township – people are already coming up. So, I think the key is if they are that they clearly understand what the expectations are.”
Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith said two things came from the conference call – with the first being the health, safety and wellbeing of all residents both permanent and seasonal.
He adds the second issue is that we aren’t prepared for the influx as we might be under normal circumstances.
“We just aren’t back at tourism time yet. We don’t have any open infrastructure to support tourism, day-trippers, folks that would be typically staying in a hotel and going to eat and doing all those things we rely on them to do. They can’t really do any of that because it’s not available so, it’s not quite time for that yet.”
Smith also notes that there will be a very slow adjustment period to opening things up and while this isn’t the wide-open welcome mat that cottagers might be used to – it’s the right first step.