Mark Clairmont |

MUSKOKA — Reaction to news yesterday that the province may soon lift its social restrictions order on cottagers wasn’t too widely welcomed in Muskoka.

Social media was buzzing with comments reflecting the threat of social and political fireworks (the fiery ones are under a total fire ban) Victoria Day weekend May 24.

News reports spread like wildfire.

Premier Doug Ford said it all depends on COVID-19 numbers dropping the next few weeks.

From Fred Orchard, in Bala — who’s “not against people coming to Muskoka” — said “: “Floodgates are already open. Drive down any cottage road and see. They’re here already.”

Gerry Gerhart, in Huntsville, writes: “They were never closed. Just words to make it seem as if something is being done. Makes me sick.”

Says Mike Lowshaw: “That’s why im glad I moved away from Muskoka (Gravenhurst), they were told to stay home, but they go to Muskoka.”

But not everybody agrees.

Robert Pulfer, who grew up in Gravenhurst, says: “If people are healthy. Why deny them their large tax-paying rights.”

Earle Laycock, who also grew up in Gravenhurst, remembers a similar situation during a school strike.

“This has happened before. I remember a school strike years ago affecting the GTA. Schools were still open in Muskoka and since we had a cottage near Burks Falls we thought about possibly sending our kids to school up north since we paid school taxes on our property. But it was soon discovered that cottage children weren’t welcome under the circumstances.
”Seems a bit unfair to taxpayers — and I grew up in Muskoka. Normally cottagers realize the contribution they make to the cottage economy via taxes and don’t complain (too much). But this does work both ways IMHO.”

Carol Armstrong, of Gravenhurst, can’t disagree: “They pay taxes & support our businesses and the also donate to our local hospitals.”

Paul Wilmott, another Gravenhurst native, continued that stream of thought: “Carol, good comment. They pay the high taxes that keep Gravenhurst’s economy going, and keep local people going….”

Tim Grimes, who also grew up Gravenhurst, replied to his Bala friend: “Am I allowed Fred? We haven’t been up yet, but we do need to check on a few things.

“I feel it is safe if we drive straight in our driveway and plant ourselves over night. Bring our food and booze with us and avoid town entirely. This certainly isn’t possible for anyone isolating at their cottage, as supply runs are necessary.”

Bracebridge native Sybil Jackson hates to see the “us” vs. “them” divisiveness.

“This current pandemic is new to all of us and we’re doing the best we can. I hate to see an “us” vs. “them” attitude.

“By the way how many of you know people going to Toronto and other places in the GTA to visit friends and family? I know some.”

The comments come amid the controversy that has politicians often accused — rightly or wrongly — of caring more about cottagers than the resident population.

And a long-held belief in this corner that municipalities spend a disprortionate amount of time luring residents — then ignoring them when they move here.

Let us know your thoughts.

Without social distancing, the Victoria Day long weekend May 24 may be filled with lots of fireworks.


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