Transcript: Ontario's COVID-19 Cottage Quandary | May 04, 2020

Steve sits in a room with white walls, a low slanted ceiling and several framed pictures on the walls including one of George Drew and one of Walter Kronkite. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a white shirt and a black tie.

A caption on screen reads "Ontario's COVID-19 cottage quandary. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says TWO WEEKS TODAY MARKS THE FIRST LONG WEEKEND OF THE SUMMER - VICTORIA DAY. AND WHILE CITY FOLK WOULD NORMALLY HEAD TO COTTAGE COUNTRY IN DROVES, THIS YEAR WILL NOT BE BUSINESS AS USUAL. SO FAR, THEY'VE BEEN TOLD TO STAY HOME AND AWAY FROM THE PROPERTIES THEY OWN AND PAY TAXES ON - BY PUBLIC HEALTH IN GENERAL, AND RURAL POLITICAL LEADERS IN PARTICULAR. WITH US NOW FOR MORE ON THIS TRICKY SITUATION: IN PORT CARLING, ONTARIO: THERE'S PHIL HARDING, MAYOR OF MUSKOKA LAKES...

Phil is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short gray hair. He's wearing glasses and a checkered shirt.

Steve continues IN TEMAGAMI, IN NORTHEASTERN ONTARIO: KIM KRECH, OWNER OF TEMAGAMI MARINE...

Kim is in her fifties, with short brown hair. She's wearing a gray sweater.

Steve continues AND IN PETERBOROUGH, ONTARIO: TERRY REES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FEDERATION OF ONTARIO COTTAGERS' ASSOCIATIONS...

Terry is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short gray hair. He's wearing glasses and a gray shirt.

Steve continues IT'S GOOD TO HAVE ALL THREE OF YOU ON TVO WITH US TONIGHT. WE DO WANT TO GET INTO THIS ISSUE, WHICH HAS, IN SOME RESPECTS, PITTED URBAN AGAINST RURAL ONTARIO FOR A CHANGE, AND WE WANT TO HEAR ABOUT THE EXPERIENCES THE THREE OF YOU ARE HAVING. YOU NO DOUBT ARE HEARING STORIES ABOUT THE WAY THINGS ARE IN THE BIG CITIES AND PARTICULARLY IN CONGREGATE CARE SETTINGS. I WANT TO KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON IN COTTAGE COUNTRY. YOUR WORSHIP, DO YOU WANT TO START US OFF?

The caption changes to "Phil Harding. Mayor of Muskoka Lakes."

Phil says THANKS, STEVE, AND GOOD EVENING. IT'S BEEN INTERESTING BECAUSE EVERYONE IS CERTAINLY AFRAID OF THIS VIRUS AND TRYING TO LISTEN TO THE CANADIAN MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH AND OUR ONTARIO MEDICAL OFFICER, WHICH BASICALLY TELLS US TO STAY HOME, BUT PEOPLE HAVE MULTIMILLION DOLLAR INVESTMENTS IN MUSKOKA AND THEY WANT TO COME VISIT. SO IT DOES CREATE A BIT OF A CHALLENGE.

Steve says KIM, WHAT ARE YOU HEARING?

The caption changes to "Kim Krech. Temagami Marine."

Kim says ABSOLUTELY THE SAME THING IN TEMAGAMI. WE'RE WATER ACCESS ONLY. WE FEEL LIKE WE'RE BEING THE POLICE TO STOP PEOPLE FROM COMING. IT'S JUST THE WAY IT IS AND WE ALL HAVE TO BE SAFE AT THE SAME TIME.

Steve says GIVE ME A FOR INSTANCE ON WHAT YOU MEAN WHEN YOU SAY YOU FEEL YOU'RE BEING THRUST IN THE ROLE OF THE LOCAL CONSTABULARY, IF YOU WILL.

Kim says THEY CALL FOR THEIR BOATS FOR THEIR COTTAGE SINCE WE'RE WATER ACCESS ONLY AND WE TELL THEM THEY CAN'T HAVE THEM AT THIS POINT.

Steve says AND WHAT DO THEY THEN SAY TO YOU?

Kim says WELL, IT'S MY COTTAGE. YEAH, IT IS. AND I AGREE THAT IF YOU COME HERE AND YOU GO TO YOUR COTTAGE AND HEAVY ISOLATE FOR 14 DAYS, NO PROBLEM. IT CAN BE MANAGED. BUT WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE AND IT'S JUST THE WAY IT IS.

Steve says I'M TRYING TO IMAGINE HOW MUCH PROFANITY YOU'VE HEARD OVER THE PHONE OVER THE LAST FEW WEEKS. DO YOU WANT TO SHARE THAT INFORMATION?

Kim says NO.

[LAUGHTER]

Steve says OKAY. YOU'RE OFF THE HOOK ON THAT ONE. TERRY, WHAT ARE YOU SEEING AND HEARING?

The caption changes to "Terry Rees. Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Associations."

Terry says IT'S A LONG WINTER IN CANADA AND PEOPLE AT THIS POINT ARE ANXIOUS TO GET OUT TO THEIR PROPERTIES. LOTS OF PEOPLE HAVEN'T BEEN THERE FOR MONTHS. THERE'S ALWAYS A CONCERN ABOUT WINTER DAMAGE AND CRIME THAT HAPPENED IN THE OFF-SEASON. SO EVERYONE IS ANXIOUS TO GET OUT OF WINTER AND INTO THEIR SUMMER MODE AND GET BACK TO THE COMMUNITIES THEY FEEL SO STRONGLY ABOUT. EVERYONE IS ANXIOUS, OF COURSE. SO LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE, I THINK EVERYONE IS JUST TRYING TO DO THEIR PART AS BEST THEY CAN TO KEEP EVERYBODY SAFE.

Steve says MAYOR HARDING, IF I'VE HEARD IT ONCE, I'VE HEARD IT A DOZEN TIMES, PROBABLY A COUPLE DOZEN TIMES IN THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS, WHICH IS, YOU WOULD THINK THAT IF WE ARE SUPPOSED TO PHYSICALLY DISTANCE FROM ONE ANOTHER RIGHT NOW IN ORDER TO BE SAFE, THAT GOING TO A PLACE WHERE IT IS ACTUALLY QUITE EASY TO PHYSICALLY DISTANCE, NAMELY A MUCH MORE SPARSELY POPULATED PART OF THE PROVINCE, WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA. WHAT'S YOUR ADVICE ON THAT?

Phil says SO I HAVE TO SAY, YOU KNOW, IN SIMPLE MATH, WE HAVE ROUGHLY 3 MILLION PEOPLE IN THE GTA, IN THE CITY OF TORONTO, SPREAD OUT OVER ABOUT 600 SQUARE KILOMETRES. IN MUSKOKA RIGHT NOW, WE HAVE ABOUT 60,000 PERMANENT RESIDENTS YEAR ROUND, BUT WE SPREAD THAT OUT OVER 4,000 KILOMETRES. IT MAKES SENSE TO BE ABLE TO ISOLATE, TO STAY AWAY FROM PEOPLE UP HERE. BUT, UNFORTUNATELY, I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH LETTERS AFTER MY NAME TO BE ABLE TO COMMENT ON THE HELP AND THE MEDICAL ADVICE THAT THE PROVINCE AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS PROVIDING, AND I THINK BASICALLY THEY WANT TO SAY, STAY WHERE YOU ARE. BECAUSE IF YOU DO GET IN A CAR ACCIDENT ON THE WAY TO THE COTTAGE, IF SOMETHING HAPPENS WITH YOUR BOAT, IF YOU'RE OUT CUTTING WOOD AND A PARAMEDIC NEEDS TO COME IN AND SUPPORT YOU, UNFORTUNATELY THEN WE'RE PUTTING OTHER PEOPLE IN HARM'S WAY.

Steve says AND DO YOU SHARE THAT VIEW, THAT IT MAKES NO SENSE FOR PEOPLE TO COME UP TO COTTAGE COUNTRY RIGHT NOW?

Phil says I THINK AS THE GOVERNMENT OPENS UP CERTAIN BUSINESSES, I HAD THIS CONVERSATION WITH OUR MPP NORM MILLER LAST WEEK, AND THE REALITY IS, THEY'RE COMING. NO MATTER WHAT WE DO. UNTIL THE PROVINCE ACTUALLY PUTS A TRAVEL BAN IN PLACE, THEY WILL BE COMING, ESPECIALLY 10 DAYS FROM NOW FOR THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND. SO MY ENCOURAGEMENT TO PEOPLE IS, NUMBER ONE, BE RESPECTFUL. FOR THE LOCAL PEOPLE TO BE RESPECTFUL OF THOSE SEASONAL RESIDENTS WHO ARE COMING UP AS WELL. AND WE ALL NEED TO WORK TOGETHER. WE ARE A BALANCED ECONOMY, BETWEEN SEASONAL RESIDENTS AND THE PERMANENT RESIDENTS. WE NEED EACH OTHER. NO ONE CAN SURVIVE WITHOUT THE OTHER. SO I'M REALLY ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO BE RESPECTFUL OF OUR NEIGHBOURS, TO ISOLATE, IF YOU CAN BRING SOME FOOD UP NORTH SO WE DON'T PUT ANY EXTRA STRAINS ON THE GROCERY STORES, AND EVALUATE HEALTH CARE OPTIONS SHOULD YOU HAPPEN TO FEEL A SNIFFLE COME ON.

Steve says OKAY. MR. MAYOR, I DID NOT HEAR YOU JUST SAY, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES DO WE WANT YOU TO COME TO YOUR COTTAGES. DIDN'T SAY THAT, DID YOU?

Phil says I DIDN'T SAY THAT AND I KNOW I AT TIMES WILL BE CRITICIZED. I WILL FOLLOW THE ADVICE OF THE HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS WHO ARE ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO STAY IN ONE PLACE. I WILL SAY THAT CURRENTLY THE PROVINCE HAS NOT MANDATED THAT PEOPLE DO THAT. PEOPLE NEED TO USE THEIR OWN JUDGMENT AND DETERMINE WHAT'S BEST FOR THEMSELVES AND THEIR FAMILY. PEOPLE WHO HAVE TRAVELLED AND THEIR CHILDREN ARE BACK TO SCHOOL, THEY NEED TO ISOLATE, SO THEY ARE PUTTING SOME PEOPLE POTENTIALLY AT THEIR SECOND HOME TO BE ABLE TO ISOLATE BETTER AND STAYING IN AND ON THOSE PROPERTIES.

Steve says KIM, YOURS IS ONE OF THE MANY BUSINESSES IN THE PROVINCE WHICH GOT NOT QUITE A GREEN LIGHT FROM PREMIER FORD ON FRIDAY, BUT YOU GOT A BIT OF YELLOW LIGHT, INASMUCH AS YOU CAN START TO PREPARE FOR REOPENING YOUR MARINA. LET ME JUST READ WHAT IN FACT THE GUIDELINES ARE THAT THE PROVINCE PUT OUT LAST FRIDAY. IT SAID MARINAS MAY ALSO BEGIN PREPARATIONS FOR THE RECREATIONAL BOATING SEASON BY SERVICING BOATS AND OTHER WATERCRAFT AND PLACING BOATS IN THE WATER, BUT YOU MAY NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. BOATS AND WATERCRAFT MUST BE SECURED TO A DOCK IN THE MARINA UNTIL PUBLIC ACCESS IS ALLOWED. OKAY. YOU RUN A MARINA. ARE YOU CLEAR IN YOUR MIND AS TO WHAT YOU CAN AND CAN'T DO?

Kim says I AM NOW.

Steve says YOU ARE NOW, OKAY. DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU ARE ABLE TO GET THE SHOW ON THE ROAD AND AT WHAT POINT DO YOU SUSPECT YOU'LL BE OPEN?

Kim says WE CAN PUT BOATS IN THE WATER. WE ARE A PRIVATE MARINA, SO IT'S VERY, VERY EASY FOR US TO LOCK THE GATES AND KEEP THE PUBLIC OUT. I'M ANTICIPATING BETWEEN THREE WEEKS AND FOUR WEEKS, PEOPLE WILL BE COMING AND WE'LL BE ABLE TO GIVE THEM THEIR BOATS TO GET TO THEIR COTTAGES.

Steve says NOT BEFORE THREE OR FOUR WEEKS, YOU'RE SAYING?

Kim says I'M NOT THINKING SO, NO.

Steve says BECAUSE IT TAKES YOU THAT LONG TO GET EVERYTHING UP AND ROLLING?

Kim says NO, NO. WE CAN HAVE BOATS IN THE WATER BY NEXT WEEK. TWO WEEKS TO GET EVERYBODY THAT WE NEED TO FOR THE LONG WEEKEND THAT NORMALLY COME UP. BUT I DON'T THINK THAT IT'S GOING TO BE OPEN YET. I DON'T THINK THE PROVINCE IS GOING TO COMPLETELY OPEN IT FOR ANOTHER THREE TO FOUR WEEKS.

Steve says AND JUST AS I ASKED HIS WORSHIP, THE MAYOR, THIS QUESTION, LET ME ASK YOU AS WELL: WE HAVE NOT HEARD AN ABSOLUTE... I MEAN, WE'VE HEARD THE PREMIER GIVE HIS ADVICE, SAYING DON'T GO TO COTTAGE COUNTRY. BUT WE HAVEN'T HAD A LAW PASSED. WE HAVEN'T HAD A REGULATION PUT IN PLACE. WE HAVEN'T HAD DIRECT ORDERS GO TO LAW ENFORCEMENT ACROSS THE PROVINCE SAYING ARREST ANYBODY WHO DRIVES TO COTTAGE COUNTRY. SO WHAT IS YOUR BEST ADVICE TO PEOPLE FROM THE SOUTH WHO MAY WANT TO COME NORTH?

Kim says MY ONLY CONCERN IS THE ONES THAT ARE COMING, AND THEY ARE COMING, THAT DECIDE THEY'RE GOING TO TRY AND CANOE TO THEIR COTTAGE BECAUSE I CAN'T GIVE THEM THEIR BOAT. IT'S NOT A SAFE WAY TO DO IT. WE HAVE 3,000 MILES OF SHORELINE AND OVER 800 ISLANDS THAT ARE ALL PRIVATELY OWNED. VERY, VERY EASY FOR THEM TO SELF-ISOLATE ON THEIR ISLANDS AWAY FROM OTHER PEOPLE. I THINK IT WOULD BE SAFER IF WE CAN CONTROL IT TO LET THEM GO TO THEIR ISLANDS AT THIS POINT BECAUSE IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN.

Steve says BUT YOU SAID DON'T CANOE IT. HOW COME?

Kim says I JUST DON'T THINK THAT'S SAFE. OUR WATER IS TOO COLD. THERE'S STILL ICE FLOATING AROUND. IF SOMETHING HAPPENS ON THE ISLAND AND THEY'VE ONLY GOT A CANOE... BUT I'VE BEEN TOLD BY SOME CUSTOMERS, THEY'RE CANOEING IN.

Steve says COME HELL OR HIGH WATER.

Kim says YES.

Steve says LITERALLY. OKAY. TERRY, WHAT ARE YOU HEARING FROM PEOPLE IN TERMS OF WHETHER THEY INTEND TO COME TO THEIR COTTAGES REGARDLESS OF THE ADVICE FROM THE PREMIER?

Terry says WELL, THERE'S CERTAINLY PEOPLE WHO ARE ALREADY LIVING IN THEIR SEASONAL HOMES. PEOPLE ISOLATED FOR VARIOUS REASONS THERE. AND I THINK, LIKE THE MAYOR SAID, IF YOU'VE GOT FAMILY THAT YOU MIGHT BE PUTTING AT RISK OR MIGHT BE AT RISK YOURSELF, IF YOU'VE GOT SENSITIVITIES OR YOU HAVE A HEALTH CONDITION THAT MEANS YOU HAVE TO BE AWAY FROM YOUR FAMILY, IT SEEMS LIKE... AND OBVIOUSLY PEOPLE HAVE TAKEN IT... THAT IT'S A LOGICAL OPTION FOR THEM TO GO ISOLATE IN A RURAL SETTING WHERE THEY CAN BE ON THEIR OWN, OR IF THEY HAVE A FIRST RESPONDER OR A HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL IN THEIR HOME, THEN... LOTS OF PEOPLE HAVE TAKEN A DECISION TO, DESPITE WHAT THE PREMIER HAS SAID, TO MOVE TO THEIR... TO MOVE TO A SEASONAL HOME BECAUSE IT MAKES SOME SENSE TO THEIR FAMILY. AND I THINK THERE IS NOT A DIRECTIVE THAT SAYS THEY ARE NOT LEGALLY ALLOWED TO BE THERE, NOR IS IT FOCUS' ROLE, OUR ORGANIZATION'S ROLE TO TELL PEOPLE WHETHER THEY CAN OR SHOULD, ALTHOUGH WE'VE BEEN STRONGLY ECHOING AND COMMUNICATING THE PROVINCE'S AND THE HEALTH EXPERTS' ADVICE ABOUT STAYING AT HOME AND ISOLATING. BUT IF YOU'RE THERE, IT'S POSSIBLE TO ISOLATE AND DO IT SAFELY, AGAIN, KEEPING YOUR LOCAL RETAIL AND SERVICE PROVIDERS' HEALTH TOP OF MIND AND DOING WHAT YOU CAN TO SHOP WHERE YOU ARE AND CERTAINLY IF YOU'RE UNHEALTHY, IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS, YOU SHOULD BE STAYING WHERE YOU ARE.

Steve says NOW, I WANT TO FOLLOW UP ON THAT, TERRY, BECAUSE YOU HAVE SAID IT'S NOT REALLY YOUR JOB AS AN ASSOCIATION TO POLICE WHAT COTTAGE OWNERS DO ACROSS THIS PROVINCE. BUT IN THE ABSENCE OF AN ABSOLUTE HARD, CLEAR LAW... WHICH WE DO NOT HAVE. WE HAVE THE STRONG ADMONITION FROM THE PREMIER, BUT WE DON'T HAVE A LAW. IN THE ABSENCE OF A LAW, ARE YOU TELLING PEOPLE, DON'T GO TO YOUR SUMMER COTTAGES?

Terry says YOU CAN CHECK OUR WEBSITE. WE'VE BEEN SAYING THIS FOR A MONTH OR MORE THAT WE ARE STRONGLY RECOMMENDING THAT PEOPLE FOLLOW THE DIRECTIVES FROM THE PROVINCE. AGAIN, UNDERSTANDING THAT FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS, PEOPLE MAY ALREADY BE THERE, AND IF THEY ARE, THEN THEY HAVE TO ISOLATE SAFELY. AGAIN, WE'RE NOT THE POLICE. WE CERTAINLY WANT PEOPLE TO BE RESPECTFUL AND KEEP THEIR COMMUNITIES... AND WE'RE ALL ANXIOUS TO GET BACK THERE BECAUSE WE CONTRIBUTE THERE AS TAXPAYERS AND WE SUPPORT A WHOLE BUNCH OF LOCAL INITIATIVES AND ARE AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE FABRIC OF THE COMMUNITY. SOME PEOPLE HAVE BETTER NETWORKS IN THEIR COTTAGE COMMUNITY THAN THEY DO AT HOME OR IT'S A BETTER PLACE TO ISOLATE THAN THEIR CAN CONDO IN DOWNTOWN TORONTO.

Steve says I'LL PLAY DEVIL'S ADVOCATE FOR A SECOND. I CAN IMAGINE COTTAGE OWNERS SAYING: I OWN THE COTTAGE. IT IS MY PROPERTY. THERE'S NO LAW AGAINST THIS. I AM PAYING PROPERTY TAXES EVEN THOUGH I'M BEING TOLD I SHOULDN'T GO THERE, I'M STILL PAYING THOSE PROPERTY TAXES. I AM PAYING HYDRO FEES EVEN THOUGH I'M TOLD I'M NOT ALLOWED TO GO THERE. WHY SHOULDN'T I BE ALLOWED TO GO GIVEN ALL THE MONEY I'M SPENDING ON THIS PLACE?

Phil says I THINK, AS TERRY HAS SUGGESTED, WE NEED TO FOLLOW THE MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH'S PERSPECTIVES ABOUT THE BEST WAY TO STOP THE SPREAD OF THIS VIRUS. IF WE DON'T DO THIS AND WE DO SPREAD THE VIRUS, TRADITIONAL COTTAGE SEASON, SUMMER, AS WE KNOW IT, IS GOING TO BE PUT ON HOLD OR WE MAY NOT EVEN GET THERE. I DO RESPECT THE FACT, AND I THINK IT COMES DOWN TO EVENTUALLY INDIVIDUAL CHOICE FOR PEOPLE AND THERE ARE CERTAIN PROPERTIES THAT NEED TO BE CHECKED ON. WE HAVE SOME EXTREMELY HIGH WATER LEVELS ON LAKE MUSKOKA RIGHT NOW, AND PEOPLE ARE COMING UP TO CHECK THEIR PROPERTIES, TO SECURE THINGS IN THEIR BOATHOUSES. THAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN. AND WHO AM I TO TELL SOMEBODY THAT YOU CANNOT COME TO YOUR COTTAGE? AGAIN, I PUT IT ON THE INDIVIDUAL, TO USE THEIR BEST JUDGMENT AS TO HOW THEY PROTECT THEMSELVES AND THEIR FAMILIES.

Steve says HOW MUCH TALK ARE YOU HEARING AROUND THE PART OF THE PROVINCE THAT YOU REPRESENT AMONG LOCAL PEOPLE EXPRESSING FEARS THAT URBAN PEOPLE WILL COME THERE AND BRING THE VIRUS WITH THEM?

Terry says THAT IS DEFINITELY WHAT'S GOING ON. I'LL BE HONEST, I IN PARTICULAR IN MUSKOKA LAKES WALK A VERY FINE LINE IN THE FACT THAT 80 PERCENT OF MY RESIDENTS ARE SEASONAL RESIDENTS. 20 PERCENT ARE LOCAL. BUT WE'RE ALSO SURROUNDED BY HUNTSVILLE, BRACEBRIDGE, AND GRAVENHURST, THAT HAVE MORE LOCAL RESIDENTS. IF WE TELL THE SEASONALS TO STAY AWAY, THEY'LL COMPLAIN WE HAVE MULTIMILLION DOLLAR HOMES WE'RE NOT ALLOWED TO GO TO. WHEN I TELL THEM TO COME, THE LOCALS SAY DON'T BRING US THE VIRUS AND DON'T INFECT US. I TRULY UNDERSTAND BOTH SIDES, AND WE'RE REALLY... EVERYONE IS IN A NO-WIN SITUATION. THIS IS LIFE-ALTERING. A GOOD FRIEND OF MINE, WE'VE HAD ONE DEATH IN MUSKOKA LAKES. IT HAPPENED TO BE A GOOD FRIEND'S FATHER. AND I FEEL HORRIBLE FOR THE FAMILIES AND THE PEOPLE, BUT THEY DIDN'T SPREAD THE VIRUS, THEY RECEIVED THE VIRUS FROM TRAVELLING OUT OF COUNTRY, AND IT'S TRAGIC AS WHAT HAPPENED.

Steve says LET ME ASK YOU A CRASS POLITICAL QUESTION. I'M SURE THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE THERE ALL YEAR AROUND VOTE. HOW MUCH VOTING DO THE SEASONAL RESIDENTS ACTUALLY DO?

Terry says SO, GENERALLY SPEAKING, OUR SEASONAL RESIDENTS... WE DEAL WITH MAIL-IN BALLOTS, AS WE HAVE IN THE PAST, AND ALSO VOTE BY INTERNET OR PHONE THESE DAYS. SO OUR SEASONAL RESIDENTS DO VOTE. THEY'RE ENTITLED TO VOTE. IF YOU OWN PROPERTY, YOU ARE ENTITLED TO VOTE IN MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS. I'LL BE HONEST: MY PERSONAL TAKE HAS NEVER BEEN ABOUT BUYING VOTES. MY PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE FOR MY 10-PLUS YEARS NOW IN POLITICS HAS BEEN THAT OF, WHAT IS RIGHT FOR MUSKOKA LAKES, WHAT IS RIGHT FOR THE GENERAL COMMUNITY, AND HOW DO WE MOVE FORWARD? I WILL BE THE FIRST ONE TO CHALLENGE POLITICAL VIEWS OR CONVENTION SOMETIMES WHEN IT NEEDS TO BE CHALLENGED.

Steve says BECAUSE I WAS GOING TO SAY, IF 80 PERCENT OF YOUR RESIDENTS ARE SEASONAL PEOPLE AND THEY WANT TO GET THERE AND YOU'RE TELLING THEM NOT TO GET THERE, THAT COULD BE A CAREER-LIMITING MOVE. YOU APPRECIATE THAT, EH?

Terry says I 100 PERCENT APPRECIATE THAT, STEVE. I WILL ONLY SAY THAT WE ARE ALL ONE. I STARTED A BIT OF A HASHTAG MUSKOKAUNITES. WE NEED TO UNITE THIS COMMUNITY AND NOT DIVIDE THIS COMMUNITY. NOBODY WANTS TO GET SICK. NOBODY WANTS TO LOSE A LOVED ONE. AS TERRY SAID, THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE ALREADY HERE IN COTTAGE COUNTRY WHO ARE ISOLATING. THEY ARE USING THEIR HOMES. THEY'VE BROUGHT FOOD WITH THEM. THEY ARE BEING RESPECTFUL. OUR GROCERY STORES OFFERED DELIVERY SERVICE OR CURBSIDE PICKUP, AND THEY ARE ABLE TO NOT INTEGRATE WITH OTHER PEOPLE AND NOT SPREAD THE VIRUS.

Steve says HMM. KIM, GIVE US YOUR TAKE ON HOW YOU'RE GOING TO HANDLE THINGS IN A WEEK OR TWO OR THREE WHEN SEASONAL RESIDENTS WANT YOU TO PUT THEIR BOATS IN THE WATER, AND YET THE PREMIER OF ONTARIO IS STILL TELLING PEOPLE FROM THE CITIES, DON'T GO NORTH? HOW ARE YOU GOING TO HANDLE THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES?

Kim says IT'S GOING TO BE VERY DIFFICULT. WE DON'T WANT TO GO AGAINST ANY ORDERS. WE DO HAVE A DIVIDED COMMUNITY HERE. THE RURALS DO NOT WANT THEM COMING. OUR LIVELIHOOD, THOUGH, DEPENDS ON IT. TEMAGAMI IS THE SAME AS THE MUSKOKAS. WE'RE 80 PERCENT, COME SUMMER TIME, SEASONAL RESIDENTS. AND 40 PERCENT OF THOSE ARE FROM THE GREATER TORONTO AREA. AND SOME COME EVERY WEEKEND. IT'S GOING TO BE VERY, VERY DIFFICULT IF I HAVE TO SAY: I CAN'T LET YOU IN TO GET YOUR BOAT. WE HAVE OUR DOCK SYSTEM SET UP SO THAT WE CAN HAVE FAMILIES PER DOCK SO EVERYONE IS SEPARATED. OUR PARKING LOT IS DESIGNED SO THAT THEY DON'T HAVE TO BE WITHIN THE 6 FEET TYPICAL DISTANCING. WE'RE PUTTING MEASURES IN PLACE TO KEEP THEM SAFE AS WELL AS OUR EMPLOYEES. AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT ELSE WE CAN DO. WE NEED THEM HERE. WE WANT THEM HERE. BUT WE NEED TO KEEP EVERYONE SAFE AT THE SAME TIME.

Steve says IN A WAY, THOUGH, YOU'RE BEING ASKED TO CUT OFF YOUR NOSE TO SPITE YOUR FACE. BECAUSE IF YOU NEED THESE FOLKS TO STAY ALIVE IN YOUR BUSINESS, HOW EXACTLY DO YOU TELL THEM: WE DON'T WANT YOU HERE?

Kim says I NEVER WOULD TELL THEM. I NEVER WOULD. I... IT'S A CATCH-22. AND FOR THE MOST PART THEY'RE UNDERSTANDING. THEY KNOW IT'S NOT OUR FAULT THAT THEY CAN'T COME. AND WE AGREE WITH THEM. IT'S BEST FOR THEM TO ISOLATE IN THEIR AREAS. AND OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM WOULD NOT BE OVERRUN. IT ISN'T OVER THE 50 YEARS THAT MOST OF THEM HAVE BEEN HERE. SO I'M NOT CONCERNED WITH THAT EITHER. I JUST... WE DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

Steve says RIGHT. YOU'RE IN A TOUGH SPOT. I CAN HEAR IT IN YOUR VOICE. TERRY, I WONDER HOW FAR YOU THINK... I MEAN, YOU'VE GOT YOUR EAR TO THE GROUND. HOW FAR DO YOU THINK THAT COTTAGE OWNERS WHO LIVE IN THE BIGGER CITIES ARE PREPARED TO GO IN ORDER TO, YOU KNOW, OPEN THE COTTAGE UP ON VICTORIA DAY WEEKEND?

Terry says SOME HAVE OBVIOUSLY GONE ALL THE WAY TO THEIR COTTAGE ALREADY. DEPENDING ON THEIR SITUATION... I'M ON AN ISLAND AND I'M UNFORTUNATELY UNABLE TO GET TO THE PLACE I WANT TO BE AT, AND I'M HOPING THAT SUMMER WILL COME EVENTUALLY. WE'RE STILL IN THE SPRING, SO I'M HOPING PEOPLE WILL APPRECIATE THAT IT'S... THE WARM WEATHER IS GOING TO COME. BUT IT'S A SHORT SEASON, AND SO PEOPLE ARE OBVIOUSLY ANXIOUS TO GET UP THERE, AND OUR COMMUNITIES, AS THE MAYOR SAID AND KIM, WANT TO HAVE THESE PEOPLE THERE BECAUSE IT'S THEIR LIFE BLOOD AND THE SEASON IS SHORT. SO THE COMMUNITIES DEPEND ON THE BUSINESS AND THE PEOPLE THAT ARE THERE IN THE BUSY SEASONS, AND I THINK TOGETHER WE'RE ALL GOING TO HAVE TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET THERE AS QUICKLY AS WE CAN WHEN IT'S SAFE TO DO SO. YOU KNOW, WE'RE TRYING TO ECHO WHAT THE PUBLIC HEALTH IS SAYING IN TERMS OF WAIT UNTIL THERE'S AN ALL-CLEAR, BUT I KNOW THAT THE COMMUNITIES ARE ALREADY FIGURING OUT HOW TO... INDIVIDUALS ARE HAVING TO BE RESPECTFUL AND SMART ABOUT HOW THEY'RE CONDUCTING THEMSELVES WHEREVER THEY'RE LIVING, BY THE WAY, AND I KNOW THAT... I'VE HEARD LOTS OF SUCCESS STORIES ABOUT LOCAL RETAILERS WHO ARE ADAPTING AND DOING THE CURBSIDE STUFF AND DELIVERIES AND TAKING ADVANTAGE OF, WHERE THEY CAN, TAKING ADVANTAGE OF BEST PRACTICES SO THEY CAN CONDUCT SOME OF THEIR BUSINESS AND DO IT IN A SAFE WAY. WE'RE ALL GOING TO HAVE TO GET THERE AND IT'S GOING TO BE A DIFFERENT SUMMER REGARDLESS AND WE'RE ALL GOING TO HAVE TO CONDUCT OURSELVES DIFFERENTLY THROUGH THE WHOLE SUMMER, NO MATTER WHEN WE GET THE GREEN LIGHT.

Steve says MAYOR HARDING, I WANT TO TELL YOU WHAT I'VE HEARD ONE OF YOUR COLLEAGUES HAS BEEN DOING. THE WARDEN OF HURON-KINLOSS APPARENTLY HAS ANNOUNCED HIS TOWNSHIP ISN'T GOING TO TURN THE WATER VALVE ON FOR SEASONAL RESIDENTS IN ORDER TO DISCOURAGE PEOPLE FROM COMING UP. WHAT'S YOUR OPINION ON THAT MOVE?

Phil says THAT I WOULD CONSIDER MIGHT BE A CAREER-LIMITING MOVE IN POLITICS, IN PARTICULAR. AGAIN, I HAVE TO SAY, THIS REALLY BECOMES A BALANCE BETWEEN HEALTH AND SAFETY, BUT ALSO IN PROTECTION. AGAIN, IF I HAVE SOMEBODY AT HOME THAT NEEDS TO ISOLATE, I CAN POTENTIALLY DO A BETTER JOB OF ISOLATING AT MY SEASONAL PROPERTY AND TO SPLIT MY FAMILY. MY SON LIVES A HALF AN HOUR SOUTH. MY DAUGHTER IS BACK FROM UNIVERSITY. SHE IS WITH HER MOTHER IN THE CITY RIGHT NOW. THAT'S THE BEST WAY TO PROTECT THE FAMILY AT TIMES, TO NOT ALWAYS BE IN THE SAME RESIDENCE. MANY PLUMBERS AND PEOPLE ARE DISCOURAGING PEOPLE FROM OPENING UP THEIR COTTAGES, AND THAT'S OKAY. IT REALLY BECOMES A BUSINESS-BY-BUSINESS DECISION. BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, AS I'VE SAID, IN A CONVERSATION AGAIN WITH THE PREMIER, THAT THEY'RE COMING. NO MATTER WHAT IT IS WE DO, THE HIGHWAYS WILL BE FILLED IN 10 DAYS. THIS PAST WEEKEND, THERE WAS A LOT OF PEOPLE HEADING NORTHBOUND. AND I THINK, AS KIM SAID, WITH CANOES ON THEIR ROOFS BECAUSE THEY WANT TO GET TO THEIR SEASONAL PROPERTIES, WATER ACCESS ISLAND. THAT IN ITSELF IS NOT SAFE. IT WAS EXTREMELY WINDY WITH 3-FOOT WAVES ON THE LAKE. I WOULD NOT WANT TO BE OUT IN A CANOE WITH THAT COLD WATER. NOT A CHANCE.

Steve says I'VE ALSO HEARD THAT INDIVIDUALS NOT COMPLYING WITH THE MAYOR OF HURON-KINLOSS', OR THE WARDEN, I SHOULD SAY, WITH HIS ORDER, ARE APPARENTLY... AND THIS IS NOT TO SAY IT WOULD HAPPEN... BUT IT'S ON THE BOOKS YOU'RE LIABLE TO A FINE AND PRISON IF YOU DEFY HIS ORDER. YOU'RE NOT WILLING TO GO THAT FAR, I PRESUME, TO DISCOURAGE COTTAGERS FROM COMING TO YOUR NECK OF THE WOODS?

Phil says CERTAINLY ONE OF THE THINGS WE'VE DONE... WE'VE GOT GREAT COMMUNICATION IN THE DISTRICT OF MUSKOKA THERE ARE SIX LOWER TIER MUNICIPALITIES. MUSKOKA LAKES IS ONE OF THEM, HURON BAY AND GEORGIAN BAY. WE'RE REGULARLY HAVING CONVERSATIONS ABOUT WHAT KIND OF UNIVERSAL MESSAGING, WHAT KIND OF PROTOCOLS WE WANT TO PUT IN PLACE TO BE ABLE TO PROTECT OUR RESIDENTS. SO FAR NO ONE HAS DECIDED TO SORT OF STEP OUT AND SAY, WE WANT TO LIMIT PLUMBERS. WE WANT TO STOP ACCESS TO CERTAIN THINGS. GEORGIAN BAY IS THE ONLY ONE... THEY ACTUALLY DECLARED A STATE OF EMERGENCY BECAUSE THEY HAVE SO MANY SEASONAL RESIDENTS AND WATER ACCESS PEOPLE SO THEY COULD HAVE SOME GREATER CONTROLS. THEY'RE THE ONLY ONES WHO HAVE ACTUALLY CLOSED THEIR BOAT RAMPS. THE REST OF US HAVE LEFT OUR BOAT RAMPS OPEN. BUT WORKING TOGETHER WITH OUR PARTNERS AND MY NEIGHBOURING MUNICIPALITIES IS THE WAY I THINK WE'RE ALL GOING TO GET THROUGH THIS COLLECTIVELY.

Steve says KIM, LET ME ASK YOU: IN A NORMAL SUMMER, AT WHAT POINT WOULD YOU HAVE OPENED YOUR MARINA FOR THE SEASON?

Kim says IT WOULD HAVE BEEN OPEN NOW. AS SOON AS THE ICE IS OUT.

Steve says AND WHEN DOES THAT TRADITIONALLY HAPPEN?

Kim says BETWEEN NOW AND THE 13TH OF MAY. IT ALL DEPENDS.

Steve says GOTCHA. AND CAN YOU TELL HOW MUCH OF A FINANCIAL HIT YOU'VE TAKEN ALREADY BY VIRTUE OF THE FACT THAT YOU ARE DELAYING... YOU'RE HAVING TO DELAY THE OPENING OF YOUR MARINA FOR PROBABLY A FEW MORE WEEKS?

Kim says WE'RE DOWN 86 PERCENT FROM LAST YEAR.

Steve says OUCH. ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE IT?

Kim says YES.

Steve says HOW CAN BUSINESS BE OFF 86 percent AND YET YOU CAN HANDLE THAT?

Kim says WE'VE DONE IT BEFORE. WE'VE BEEN HERE FOR 60 YEARS. WE'VE GONE THROUGH THE RECESSIONS AND THE DOWNTURNS AND THE MARKETS AND WE HAVE GOT A GOOD STAFF. THEY'VE BEEN WITH US FROM THE BEGINNING. ALL ARE LONG TERM. WE KNOW WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE, AND IF WE HAVE TO CLOSE A LITTLE BIT EARLY IN THE FALL, EVERYBODY'S AWARE OF THAT, THAT THAT MIGHT HAPPEN, AND WE'LL DO IT. BUT WE'LL STILL BE HERE NEXT YEAR.

Steve says WAS IT YOUR GRANDFATHER WHO STARTED THE MARINA?

Kim says YES.

Steve says 19... WHAT YEAR?

Kim says 58.

Steve says 1958. SO YOU'VE SEEN A FEW BAD YEARS IN THE PAST?

Kim says YES. I'VE BEEN HERE 30 YEARS MYSELF.

Steve says AND YOU GET THROUGH THOSE BAD YEARS HOW?

Kim says YOU JUST... YOU STRUGGLE, YOU WATCH YOUR EXPENSES, YOU MAKE SURE YOU'VE GOT CASH FLOW FOR FALL TO GET YOU THROUGH THE WINTER, AND YOU MINIMIZE. EVERYTHING GETS MINIMIZED. YOU JUST DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO.

Steve says DO YOU THINK THIS SUMMER CAN BE SAVED?

Kim says YES. YES. IT'S NOT GOING TO BE GANGBUSTERS AND IT'S NOT GOING TO BE AN OVER-THE-TOP SUMMER, BUT IF PEOPLE CAN OPEN UP A LITTLE BIT, WE'RE NOT GOING TO SEE THE U.S. CLIENTELE THIS YEAR, WE KNOW THAT. A LOT HAVE CANCELLED ALREADY. BUT I THINK IF YOU CAN JUST GET YOURSELF MOVING AND GET A LITTLE BIT OF MOMENTUM AND YOU KNOW HOW TO WORK YOUR CASH FLOW AND PUT SOME MONEY AWAY, COME NOVEMBER IT WON'T BE AS BAD AS WHAT SOME BUSINESSES ARE GOING TO GO THROUGH IN NOVEMBER.

Steve says SO WITH ANY LUCK, YOU WILL BE ABLE AT SOME POINT TO OPEN AND RUN AS CLOSE TO A NORMAL SEASON AS POSSIBLE AND THEN SHUT THE GATES IN NOVEMBER... IS THAT HOW IT USUALLY WORKS?

Kim says USUALLY WE CLOSE JUST BEFORE CHRISTMAS WITH THE WINTERIZING AND PUTTING THINGS AWAY. BUT THANKSGIVING NORMALLY PEOPLE ARE DONE ON THE LAKE, OTHER THAN THE PERMANENT RESIDENTS THAT LIVE ON THE ISLANDS ALL YEAR ROUND.

Steve says HAVE YOU HAD A BIG FAMILY SUMMIT AS TO HOW YOU INTEND TO GET THROUGH THIS SUMMER?

Kim says NO. WE'VE DONE IT WITH OUR STAFF. THEY ALL KNOW WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE. WE'RE WORKING WITH LESS PEOPLE. WE'VE TAKEN ALL OF OUR RESOURCES AND PUT THEM ASIDE AND WE'RE GOING TO SEE WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE. OUR PEOPLE ARE MOST IMPORTANT. WE HAVE TO KEEP THEM SAFE AND WORKING, IF WE CAN.

Steve says LET ME, JUST IN OUR REMAINING FEW MINUTES HERE, GET EACH OF YOU TO WEIGH IN ON THIS ISSUE. OF COURSE... WELL, I DON'T HAVE TO TELL ANY OF YOU, THE URBAN-RURAL DIVIDE IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO IS SOMETHING THAT NO POLITICAL LEADER CAN AFFORD TO TAKE THEIR EYE OFF OF. IT IS THERE. IT IS TROUBLESOME AT THE BEST OF TIMES, AND THESE ARE NOT THE BEST OF TIMES. MAYOR HARDING, HOW WORRIED ARE YOU ABOUT THAT SPLIT EXACERBATING OVER THE NEXT FEW WEEKS?

Phil says ON A SCALE OF ONE TO TEN, I'M GOING TO SAY ELEVEN. THE REALITY IS, WE ARE ALREADY, UNFORTUNATELY, OVER THE PAST FEW WEEKS OF THIS PANDEMIC, HAVE BECOME DIVIDED. I'M WORRIED ENOUGH THAT AT ABOUT 10:30 LAST NIGHT, I ACTUALLY SENT THE PREMIER A NOTE ASKING FOR HELP AND ASKING FOR SUPPORT, AGAIN THIS CONVERSATION... AND NOBODY WANTS TO GO AGAINST OUR MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH OR THE CANADIAN MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH, BUT WE NEED TO FIND SOME MESSAGING. WE NEED TO FIND SOME COMMON GROUND TO KEEP THIS ECONOMY GOING. AND I DO REALIZE, YOU KNOW, THE PREMIER... AS I'VE SAID, WE'VE OPENED UP SOME MARINAS, WE'VE OPENED UP SOME GARDEN CENTRES, WE'RE ALLOWING SOME WORK TO SLOWLY GET BACK. BUT IN A SEASONAL ECONOMY IN PARTICULAR, AS KIM SAID AGAIN, YOU PUT AWAY MONEY FOR THE WINTERTIME TO SURVIVE. YOU DO NOT NECESSARILY PUT AWAY MONEY FOR 18 MONTHS. AND THAT'S WHERE WE WOULD RUN INTO REAL PROBLEMS. SO WE ALL NEED TO WORK TOGETHER. I KNOW THAT THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN LAID OFF ARE WILLING AND READY TO WORK. I KNOW THAT SEASONAL RESIDENTS ARE READY TO COME. WE JUST NEED TO FIND AN APPROPRIATE METHOD AND MESSAGE FOR THEM TO BE ABLE TO BE HERE SAFELY AND NOT SPREAD A VIRUS AND WORK TOGETHER FOR THE FUTURE OF MUSKOKA. OTHERWISE, WE ARE GOING TO BE IN TROUBLE.

Steve says TERRY, I THINK MAYBE PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN CITIES FORGET THE NOTION THAT PEOPLE WHO RUN BUSINESSES IN RURAL ONTARIO BASICALLY HAVE, FOR MANY OF THEM, FOUR OR FIVE MONTHS OF THE WHOLE YEAR TO MAKE ALL THEIR MONEY AND THAT'S IT. OUTSIDE THE REST OF THE YEAR, BUSINESS JUST CRATERS. HOW MUCH ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT THE URBAN-RURAL SPLIT IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO RIGHT NOW AND THAT THIS WILL EXACERBATE IT?

Terry says IT'S ALREADY BEEN EXACERBATED AND THAT'S UNFORTUNATE. OUR ORGANIZATION HAS BEEN AROUND ABOUT 60 YEARS AND FOR LONG AS I REMEMBER, THE DISCUSSION HAS BEEN TALKING ABOUT BEING AS ONE AND PART OF THE SAME COMMUNITY AND THAT'S BEEN THE TONE OF OUR COMMUNICATIONS WITH OUR LOCAL MUNICIPAL LEADERSHIP AND MAYORS AND ALL OUR MEMBERS, WE HAVE 500 MUSLIM ASSOCIATIONS. WE REALLY DO ENCOURAGE TO REMEMBER WE'RE ALL IN THIS FOR THE LONG TERM, WE'RE ALL NEIGHBOURS, WE ALL HAVE TO BE PART OF THESE COMMUNITIES. WE NEED TO BE RESPECTFUL AND FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET THROUGH THIS TOGETHER. THE QUALITY OF LIFE IN THESE WATERFRONT COMMUNITIES IS DEPENDENT ON NOT JUST GOOD COMMUNAL AND NEIGHBOURLY RELATIONS BUT ALSO HAVING A VIBRANT SERVICE AND RETAIL SECTOR, AND AS YOU SAID, THESE PEOPLE RELY ON A VERY SHORT SEASON TO MAKE A LOT OF THEIR INCOME FOR THE YEAR. SO WE'RE ANXIOUS, AS EVERYBODY IS, TO GET STARTED ON A SEASON WHERE WE CAN ALL GET BACK TO SOME FORM OF MODIFIED NORMAL WHERE WE CAN HAVE SAFE RETAIL EXPERIENCES, THE MARINAS CAN BE UP AND RUNNING AND DOING THEIR THING IN A SAFE WAY, AND THAT WE CAN, AGAIN, ENJOY A SEASON THAT'S GOING TO BE DIFFERENT FOR SURE. BUT WE NEED TO BE IN THIS TOGETHER... I THINK SOCIAL MEDIA HAS NOT BEEN HELPFUL. FACEBOOK SEEMS TO BE A PLACE WHERE THERE'S A PLATFORM FOR REAL VITRIOL AND THAT'S NOT BEEN A HELPFUL CONVERSATION FOR THE MOST PART. BUT IT ALSO ALLOWS US TO CONNECT WHEN WE'RE NOT IN OUR COMMUNITIES, AND I THINK THERE'S OPPORTUNITIES TO BUILD BRIDGES AND WE BETTER START PRETTY SOON. BUT, I MEAN, WE'VE ALL BEEN IN THIS TOGETHER... WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER AND WE HAVE TO WORK OUR WAY THROUGH.

The caption changes to "Producer: Liane Kotler, @LianeKotler."

Steve says THIS HAS BEEN A HELPFUL CONVERSATION AND I WANT TO THANK ALL THREE OF YOU, MAYOR PHIL HARDING FROM MUSKOKA LAKES, KIM KRECH FROM TEMAGAMI, AND TERRY REES FROM THE COTTAGE ASSOCIATION FOR COMING ON THE AGENDA TONIGHT AND HELPING US OUT WITH THIS. BE WELL, ALL YOU THREE.

Terry says Thank you.

Kim says THANK YOU.

Phil says HAVE A GOOD EVENING AND BE SAFE, EVERYONE.

Watch: Ontario's COVID-19 Cottage Quandary