Don’t restrict cottage access

To the Editor

This letter was initially addressed to both the premier and minister of health for Ontario sent in response to the May 2 National Post article entitled “Communities Along Lake Erie ‘torn’ over ban on Cottagers” by Adrian Humphreys.

Dear Mr. Ford I am sending you this communication with respect to possible curtailment of cottage owners from going to their cottages in light of COVID-19 concerns. As a physician and responsible cottage owner I do believe I have some insight. I don’t have to remind you that as cottage owners we pay taxes for services for the entire year that surely benefits our northern communities. However I do say that we do use our cottage in a responsible fashion 12 months of the year.

With respect to COVID-19 it is much easier to isolate in the cottage setting than it is in a high-rise in Toronto having to use the elevator multiple times a day with a pet that needs to use the outdoors for obvious reasons. Isolation is much easier in the cottage environment where there is little person to person contact making the risks of contraction or spread of COVID-19 slim and remote. As responsible cottage owners we bring most of our provisions from the city of Toronto and use local facilities sparingly. My wife who has been residing there for the past two months finds that stores are well-stocked and there is no problem with social distancing and business seems to be happy with our purchases.

Concerning the possibility of becoming symptomatic with a respiratory tract infection or other illnesses that could overwhelm local community health care I daresay it would prompt a quick return to the city where as you know our hospitals have been underwhelmed with emergency visits and COVID-19 infection. I certainly can attribute this to your wise guidance and the institution of nonessential business closure social distancing encouraging appropriate handwashing etc so kudos to your government. However it is quite clear that the plateau has been reached and certainly there has been a significant decline of COVID-19 infection within the city of Toronto itself as you well know.

There is no reason why we as responsible citizens should be prevented from going to our cottages. We would continue to social distance. We would continue to avoid unnecessary gathering of people. Moreover it makes no sense to institute such a policy other than to create animosity between cottage owners and those who make cottage country their permanent residence. These communities need our existence in order to carry out their businesses which indeed is necessary for their economic survival. Also it should be stated that if your government decides to implement such a policy then you must also do it for those citizens of northern communities who must travel to the city to do business or even attend for medical reasons – it works both ways.

I would also state that such a draconian policy of barring movement to our cottages would in my opinion represent overstepping of government into private lives which would have a negative impact in supporting your government financially or otherwise in future endeavours or elections. I can see no evidence that implementing such a policy would serve any useful purpose. Our own prime minister continues to use his “cottage” to address the nation on a regular basis. I don’t believe we are in store for a second major surge as long as we continue to be responsible citizens. I feel your government must continue the fight to encourage proper behaviour in this era of COVID-19 but refrain from making decisions not based on sound evidence-based medicine that would interfere with freedom of the person and as I see it a constitutional issue.

David Kreaden MD FRCP

Dysart et al