A recent survey is showing that more seasonal residents plan to spend their winter in Muskoka this year.

The District of Muskoka’s Economic Recovery Task Force (MERTF) conducted a survey of seasonal residents asking if their plans have changed for the upcoming winter months due to COVID-19. 

The results indicate that seasonal residents plan to spend more time here during the week and weekends this winter. 

“We are not surprised that more of our residents plan to spend time in Muskoka this winter with travel restrictions in place this year,” District Chair John Klinck said. “Our local businesses will enjoy the additional support over the winter, and I am confident we can all continue to stay healthy and safe by continuing to follow the advice of our public health officials.”

The survey was completed earlier this fall to help understand the impact of COVID-19 on typical seasonal occupancy levels and explore the potential local economic impacts.

It showed that 17 percent of respondents are hoping to be in Muskoka more often during the weekends in the winter months – which is an estimated increase of 5,000 to 7,000 people to our population.

Meanwhile, 12 percent of respondents planning to be in Muskoka more often during the week in the winter season – roughly a 3,500 to 5,000 increase in population.

“The MERTF estimates that the increased time spent by seasonal residents will have an economic impact of roughly $1-2.5 million per week in additional revenues in Muskoka,” MERTF Team Lead David Sword said.  

The survey did not include full-time residents who are staying in Muskoka for the winter, guests who may be joining seasonal residents at their dwellings and any general potential increase in visitors.

The survey also identified two barriers preventing seasonal residents from spending more time in Muskoka this winter – with winterization of seasonal dwellings and broadband reliability being the biggest concerns.

Broadband reliability was already identified as a key priority by members of the Task Force. 

A sub-committee has been struck to focus on the topic and another survey will launch shortly asking all residents of Muskoka to test the speeds of their current service provider. 

The speed test data will be used to support future funding applications to expand broadband services in the region. 

It is expected that several federal and or provincial funding programs will open in the coming months. 

For more information on the survey, head here.