By Chad Ingram
A letter issued by the physicians of theHaliburton Highlands about a week and a half ago has stirred up somecontention some feuding on social media and even in person from what I understandbut it's important for everyone to remember that letter was issued with thepreservation of everyone's health in mind.
That letter asked seasonal residents toreconsider any plans to come to their seasonal residences at this time citingthe county's limited medical resources. While the county is home to twohospitals those hospitals are extremely small. The Minden site is essentiallyan emergency room attached to a long-term care home – there are no in-patientbeds – and the Haliburton Village facility is much the same albeit with 15beds. Neither site has an ICU the closest one an hour's drive away.
Again I realize some see the message asdivisive. Some perceive that the situation ispitting year-round residents against seasonal ones essentially telling thelatter group they are unwelcome in a community to which they are vitallyimportant.
Full disclosure: I am aseasonal-turned-year-round resident of Haliburton County. I began myrelationship with the county as a cottager and have lived here year-round forthe past 12 years. My parents my sister and her family remain traditionalseasonal residents. So if there are two camps – but I don't believe there arereally – then I feel I essentially have a foot in each.
The point is I understand the urge to comeand self-isolate at the cottage. If I weren’t in the county already I'dprobably have the same urge. I also understand the sadness and disappointmentthat would come with the thought of losing some or all of the cottaging season.Certainly there are already seasonal residents who've come to the communityearly there will be more who do and if those people go directly to their placesfully stocked with supplies for a few months then they are arguably doinglittle harm. Some would argue differently.
Yes it's strange that at a time of yearwhen a community reliant on a seasonal summer economy is normally rolling outits carpets for its seasonal residents those residents are being asked to stayaway. Yes it's true that in many ways they prop the community up and yes it'strue that waterfront property taxes constitute the vast majority of the taxbase in the county. However none of those things make the statements in theletter from the community's doctors any less true. Ultimately unless thegovernment makes it illegal for seasonal residents to visit their seasonalproperties – which is happening in some countries – it will be up to thoseresidents to make what they feel is the best decision based on everythingthey've read and seen about the spread of COVID-19.
As food bank demand increases with thelayoffs of county residents amid the outbreak last week the county's lake associationsbegan donating thousands of dollars to local food banks. That concept drew somesnark – “Aren't these the same group of people you have told to stay home?” onereader wrote on the Times Facebook page. Andsome are going to share that opinion.
However another wrote: “We should give ashout out to our seasonal neighbours for their donations. We are a community ofcommunities working all together to help each other.”
I firmly believe that to be true.