COVID-19 Updates from FOCA

May 11, 2020 – Need tips to be safe at your waterfront property? Watch FOCA’s newest video discussion, with Peterborough Public Health (PPH), about considerations for being safe at the lake during the pandemic. (Youtube)

Additional FOCA webinars on the topic of cottage country and implications of the pandemic can be found further down this page.

More resources:

If you do relocate to your waterfront residence (or are there already), FOCA has been suggesting the following, since late March:

  • Connect with your lake association on social media (find many connections via FOCA’s Facebook page, here). As always, these are the people who know your waterfront area best!
  • Provision yourself for several weeks (with food, drinks, gas, hardware supplies, prescriptions) before leaving your off-season community, so that you will not need to make stops along the way. This is not the time for our usual credo to “buy local” in cottage country. As you would do anywhere at this time, should you urgently need anything from a retailer or pharmacy you should call ahead to see if there are options for safe pickup or delivery.
  • Continue to follow all the principles of social distancing at the cottage! Although cottage country is usually the place for relaxed rules, that cannot be the case anywhere for the foreseeable future. Cottages are often the gathering places for multiple households in an extended family; for now, and possibly for some time to come, that could put everyone at risk.
  • Develop an exit plan with immediate family, in case you develop any indications of illness while at your waterfront property.
  • As the clock slows down on our usually-hectic schedules, use this time to enjoy nature, cook, read, sing, dance, nap and dream about dock-jumping time to come.

Current News:

May 21, 2020 – Do you have a right to go to the cottage during the coronavirus pandemic? (The Conversation)

May 19, 2020 – US-Canada border will remain closed to nonessential travel for at least another month (CNN)
Calling the border with the United States a clear point of “vulnerability” for Canada in terms of Covid-19 infections, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that by mutual agreement, the border will remain closed to nonessential travel until at least June 21

May 19, 2020 – Ontario extends all emergency order, including limits on social gatherings (CTV News)

May 14, 2020 – Province announces more services that are now permitted to open or expand including marinas and public boat launches that can be open for recreational use effective 12:01am Saturday May 16.

May 13, 2020 – FOCA cited by CBC Ottawa: Cottage country dilemma: to go or not to go

May 13, 2020 – Letter from FOCA Member LOWDSA and Kenora Mayor to summer residents: A May long weekend like no other…

May 13,  2020 – Video Update from the Mayor of Muskoka Lakes (Muskoka Lakes Association)

May 12, 2020 – Cottagers in Long Point fight back against local health unit order
(CTV News)

May 12, 2020 – Ontario’s state of emergency extended until June 2nd

May 11, 2020 – FOCA speaks with the Dan McDonald Show “Will you be able to go to the cottage anytime soon“?  (AM800 CKLW Windsor)

May 11, 2020 – The urban-rural divide heats up during COVID-19 (Steve Paikin, TVO’s The Agenda)

May 8, 2020 – Ontario has announced that effective May 11, more businesses can open provided they take special measures. This includes marinas’ ability to launch and release boats for water access residents ONLY.   Marinas would still not be allowed to serve recreational boaters and non-residents.

Note that some municipalities have concurrently extended access to waterfront properties via public boat launches – which may have previously been closed to access as part of the emergency orders.  Please check with your local municipality for more information.

May  7, 2020 – Coronavirus: Can I visit my Ontario cottage on the May long weekend? (Global News)

May 6, 2020 – Ontario is extending all emergency orders under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until May 19, 2020

May 6, 2020 – CBC’ s Ottawa Morning host Robyn Bresnahan speaks with FOCA about rural concerns and a responsible return to the cottage

May 5, 2020 – FOCA on Global  News: Easing restrictions on cottagers before the long-weekend

May 5, 2020 – Premier Ford discusses responsibly easing restrictions on cottage use (Global News)

May 5, 2020 – Ontario’s top doctor won’t ban people from cottages despite region warning of $5,000 fine (CTV Toronto)

May 4, 2020 – FOCA’s Executive Director appeared on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin, in a segment entitled Ontario’s COVID-19 Cottage Quandary  (TVO)

image: asterix buttonMay 4, 2020 – Reopening the Province’s marinas and water accessA letter from FOCA to the Province of Ontario

May 3, 2020 – Restrictions not lifting yet in Ontario, Kenora mayor warns as Manitobans flock to cottage country (CBC Manitoba)

May 1, 2020 – Premier Ford announces Certain Businesses Allowed to Reopen Under Strict Safety Guidelines – including marinas who “may begin preparations for the recreational boating season” with restrictions.

See: Guidance on Health and Safety for Marinas during COVID-19 (Ontario)
Social Distancing Best Practices  for marina personnel (Boating Ontario)
FOCA Boating Safety

April 30 – Listen to FOCA’s Executive Director discussing waterfront perspectives , travel advisories, and COVID-19 with CBC Ontario Morning

April 29, 2020 – COVID-19 in cottage country; the marina owners ; regulatory confusion, year-rounders, and keeping their business afloat (TVO)

April 26 – Why do some Ontarians still have access to their cottages while others do not? (National Post)

April 18, 2020 – The prime minister has announced that Canada’s agreement with the United States to keep the border closed to non-essential travel will be extended for another 30 days, to May 21.  The agreement originally went into effect on March 21 and was set to end on April 21. (CTV)

April 15, 2020 – The opening of the TSW and Rideau system waterways has been delayed until at least May 31st. See more information and links on this page of FOCA’s website: https://foca.on.ca/tsw-and-rideau-canal-water-management-updates/

April 6, 2020 – Ontario joins Quebec in restricting short-term rentals during coronavirus pandemic (Globe and Mail)

April 3, 2020 – Seasonal trailer parks and recreational campgrounds are not listed as essential businesses (Ontario)

April 2, 2020 – FOCA is quoted in this digital article: ‘COVID time is not cottage time’: Canada’s top health official (Weather Network)

April 1, 2020 – as reported by our colleagues at Boating Ontario, many marinas are currently not allowing any launches or mooring, and/or are on restricted access for service or repair. While marinas are listed among Ontario’s “essential services” the posting notes “only to the extent that the marina is necessary to enable individuals to access their primary place of residence.” See an April 10, 2020 letter to Boating Ontario from MTO. For links to several postings, visit: https://www.facebook.com/BoatingOntario.ca/ 

March 31, 2020 – FOCA has been contacted by members who are American citizens who traditionally spend up to six months of the year at their Canadian waterfront properties, wondering whether they will be allowed entry at the border, even to check on their properties due to recurring Spring water level concerns. On March 26th, FOCA spoke with Canadian Border Services customer service who informed us that developments were occurring quickly, and could continue to change at any time. You are advised to call 1-800-461-9999 and talk to a Border Services customer representative for the most current information. Please note that additional restrictions related to cross border travel may also be imposed by US Customs and Border Protection.

Important: this situation is very fluid and changes are possible at any time.

March 29, 2020 – Dr. Theresa Tam, the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada directed her messaging to snowbirds and other travellers returning to Canada, specifically noting: “Urban dwellers/Cottagers should RESIST THE URGE to head to the cottage and rural properties as these communities have less capacity to manage COVID19.” For her full remarks, visit @CPHO_Canada on Twitter

…Find links to earlier news items, and additional regional news, at the bottom of this post…

FOCA Member Webinars:

“Governing our Lake Associations during the pandemic” – practical tips and legal guidance with Katherine Carre of Borden Ladner Gervais, LLP (May 6, 2020) The information provided in this webinar was current as of the date of the event. This situation is very fluid and changes are possible at any time. We received permission from the presenter to post the webinar and slides until May 19th. Contact FOCA for more information, or to review any of the topics covered in the webinar.

Tip: FOCA posts lots of additional governance information and Association resources, here: https://foca.on.ca/toolkit-overview/

“Cottage Country Considerations & COVID-19” (April 14, 2020) – FOCA’s Executive Director provided an overview of the cottage-country impacts of the pandemic situation, at mid-April. The information provided in this webinar was current as of the date of the event. This situation is very fluid and changes are possible at any time.

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A Message from FOCA:

March 25, 2020 – Shelter in Place: Safety First

If you are a snowbird, or otherwise returning from travel abroad, Health Canada expects you to self-isolate for 14 days. Information is available online here: Health Canada COVID-19 Information.

What if you own property in two places in Ontario, and want to relocate from one to the other, such as to shelter in place at your cottage? FOCA has heard from many members, partners, and municipal contacts over the past days about this issue. Many are concerned that any transiting increases the chance for spread of illness.

FOCA reminds members that our rural communities have reduced capacity to accommodate sudden changes in supply demands. Many of us wouldn’t ordinarily open the cottage until nearer to the May long weekend. As we already know from our local grocery experiences, parts of the supply chain are under strain. Additionally, rural hospitals have limited capacity and resources, and you should consider where your health needs can best be met, in an emergency situation.

If you do relocate to your waterfront residence (or are there already), FOCA suggests the following:

  • Connect with your lake association on social media (find many connections via FOCA’s Facebook page, here). As always, these are the people who know your waterfront area best!
  • Provision yourself for several weeks (with food, drinks, gas, hardware supplies, prescriptions) before leaving your off-season community, so that you will not need to make stops along the way. This is not the time for our usual credo to “buy local” in cottage country. As you would do anywhere at this time, should you urgently need anything from a retailer or pharmacy you should call ahead to see if there are options for safe pickup or delivery.
  • Continue to follow all the principles of social distancing at the cottage! Although cottage country is usually the place for relaxed rules, that cannot be the case anywhere for the foreseeable future. Cottages are often the gathering places for multiple households in an extended family; for now, and possibly for some time to come, that could put everyone at risk.
  • Develop an exit plan with immediate family, in case you develop any indications of illness while at your waterfront property.
  • As the clock slows down on our usually-hectic schedules, use this time to enjoy nature, cook, read, sing, dance, nap and dream about dock-jumping time to come.

FOCA office update

March 25, 2020 – In light of the ongoing pandemic, FOCA is abiding by the Ontario government order related to the closure of non-essential businesses, and has transitioned our staff away from our Peterborough office, as we all practice social distancing.
We will carry on serving our members digitally, during regular business hours. Our contact information is here.  You can still leave phone messages, although email inquiries may be addressed more rapidly. At this time, FOCA is monitoring and re-evaluating all our operations, programs, and services, to ensue the safety of members, staff, volunteers and others, and so you can continue to receive the timely, valued information and programming you have come to expect from FOCA. We will keep you posted about any changes as this evolving situation develops.
We expect to be able to update you with important information by webinar in the coming weeks; our website remains active and filled with updates, and information will continue to be delivered in these Elert messages.
We know that community connections, together with responsible decision-making, will be key over the coming months for FOCA as an organization, as well as for each of your own waterfront communities. Keep in touch, and continue to share your questions, ideas, and inspirations!
Here’s a quick video message to you, from FOCA’s Executive Director:
FOCA Update March 2020

recorded March 24, 2020

Staying in Touch: Please encourage fellow members and waterfront neighbours to provide their consent to receive monthly Elert messages like this, from FOCA. You can circulate this call-to-action:
Get on the Elert list for free cottage country updates from FOCA:
This is one of many member benefits that we hope you will highlight to fellow members. For more, visit: https://foca.on.ca/member-services/benefits/.

More News and Regional Media Coverage:

May 7 – County mayors okay with return of cottagers (Haliburton Highlander)

May 7 – Ford relays cottage country plea: Hold off visits to stop COVID-19 spread – Premier met with cottage country mayors Wednesday, May 6 (MuskokaRegion.com)

May 7 – Ford and Cottage Country Mayors hold conference call about seasonal residents (MyBarrysBayNow.com)May 7 – Cottagers need to bring social distancing: Ford (Toronto Sun)

May 6 – City of Kawartha Lakes to open services under new safety protocols (Township website) – Quotable: “We are preparing to open public boat launches across the municipality Thursday May 14”

May 6 – Ontario’s top doctor won’t ban people from cottages despite one region warning of $5000 fine (CTV News)

May 6, 2020 – COVID and cottages: Learning to coexist in Muskoka during a pandemic (CBC News)

May 4, 2020 – Doug Ford says Haldimand-Norfolk can’t hold back tax-paying cottagers for long (CBC Hamilton)

May 5 – COVID-19: Stay away, Oxford-Elgin public health boss urges Erie shore cottagers (St. Thomas Times Journal)

May 5, 2020: ‘We do not want to start a civil war’: Fight grows over seasonal access to cottages during COVID-19 (National Post)

May 3, 2020: Restrictions not lifting yet in Ontario, Kenora mayor warns as Manitobans flock to cottage country (CBC Manitoba)

May 1, 2020: Outrage, secrecy, confusion: Medical officer of health [Haldimand Norfolk Health Unit] orders summer cottagers away (National Post)

April 29 – Coronavirus: Escaping the ‘city’ during pandemic not recommended by Ontario health officials (Global News)

April 23 – In addition to extending the Declaration of Emergency to May 12, 2020, the Ontario government will additionally be extending the orders under  s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, until May 6, 2020, in their effort to protect the health and safety of the people in Ontario.

April 21, 2020 – Cottagers need clarity as the season approaches (National Post)

April 21, 2020: the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters continues to update their webpage  that lists closures/restrictions to conservation areas, provincial parks, trails, public boat launches and more.

April 10, 2020: Ontario Premier tells cottagers to stay home (Steinbach Online, Manitoba)
April 9, 2020: Thinking of heading to the cottage? Think again, officials say (CTV News, South Bruce Peninsula)
April 8, 2020: No renting of cottages in South Bruce Peninsula (Bayshore Broadcasting News Centre)
April 7, 2020: County of Simcoe urges cottagers to ‘Stay Home’ (iHeartRadio webpost)
April 2, 2020: Elgin County asking seasonal residents to stay put (CTV News – London)
April 2, 2020: Canadian Officials Say Heading to your Cottage isn’t helping social distancing (Narcity – video provided by the Weather Network)
April 1, 2020: Huron cottagers asked to consider safety first
(Clinton News Record)
March 31, 2020: Manitoba border checkpoints operational (CTV News – Winnipeg)
March 31, 2020: Greg Rickford asks non-resident cottage owners to stay home (Thunder Bay NewsWatch)
March 25, 2020: Seasonal cottagers – please stay home (Shoreline Beacon)
Terry ReesCOVID-19 Updates from FOCA