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Victoria Day Launches Canadian Cottage Season

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 23 May 2000 00:00

Monday, May 22, may officially be the statutory holiday intended to allow Canada time to celebrate the Queen's birthday, but it is the unofficial first day of cottage season for thousands of Canadians. During the first long weekend of the spring, many people traditionally open up their cottage and prepare docks and boats for summer fun.

This year -- either the first year of the 21st century or the last year of the 20th century depending on how you count millennia -- may prove to be a significant year for cottagers on many fronts. If you plan to buy a cottage in BC's interior, Ontario's Kawarthas, the Lac la Ronge region of northern Saskatchewan or any one of Canada's hundreds of cottage areas this year, be aware that there is more to consider than the view. Some things offer opportunities; others may undermine your cottage investment.

  • When it comes to income tax, capital gains was reduced from 75% to 66 2/3%, leaving more profit in your pocket when you sell a cottage.

  • Land claims, government expropriations and crown land issues may attack ownership rights or cause additional costs. In Ontario's Muskoka area, the provincial government gave cottagers with two-storey boathouses the choice of leasing or buying the land under these buildings only after they pay for a Crown land survey.

  • Quality of life issues are driving even the most uninvolved cottagers to become more militant against outboard motors. Motor boats and related water craft are banned from more lakes each year. If this happened on your lake, would cottage living still be as much fun for you?

  • Environmental concerns are closing in. Invading species are undermining natural aquatic plant and animal populations. Water quality concerns are haunting increasing numbers of cottagers with old wells and septic systems. These systems are often not sufficient to support new additions. Eventually, septic systems fail and must be replaced by new, expensive systems. A professional home inspection will reduce the number of unpleasant surprises and help you budget for modernizations and major repairs.

  • The cottager's voice is increasingly being heard in local elections. More areas are allowing seasonal cottage owners the right to vote in municipal elections. As increasing numbers of people retire to their cottage or operate home-based businesses from recreational property, cottage owners are demanding a say in local politics and getting it. Staying up to date on local, regional and provincial issues that affect your cottage will give you something to do in those long winter months and quiet afternoons at the cottage.

  • Condominiums are creeping into cottage country. Crowded lake shores are now under pressure to find room for condominiums and other multi-unit developments, both as retirement housing and lower-cost ways to allow hundreds to buy into preferred cottage country areas.

    Since many cottagers enjoy re-living the pleasures of cottage life each year, changes on so many fronts may be disconcerting. Here are a few websites to keep you connected and help you play a role in turning change into improvement.

  • Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Associations Inc.

  • British Columbia Cottage Owners and Associations

  • PJ Wade, The Catalyst and "Have Your Home and Money Too" (J.Wiley & Sons)

  • Magazines are also great information sources - "The Cottage Magazine" (Country living in Western Canada) and "Cottage Living."

    Happy cottaging.

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