Editorial: Preserve Rondeau’s Cottages

The following editorial was printed in the Chatham Daily News on Friday, October 26, 2012.

“Surely to God some bureaucrat at Queen’s Park will wake up and smell the economic benefits of keeping cottages at Rondeau indefinitely. (We’d suggest MPPs do the same thing, except they’re not really working thanks to Dalton McQuitty’s proroguing of the Legislature.)

For years, the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources leadership in Toronto has viewed the cottages as a pox on the landscape of the provincial park. So what if they’ve been there for more than a century? The cottages, and their dastardly owners, aren’t part of the park’s Carolinian forest.

Some cottagers cut down a few trees, landscaped around their leased properties and, wait for it, have the audacity to not pull canoes and paddleboats off the beaches in front of their properties each night.

The cottagers remain an integral part of the local economy, especially to the communities of South Kent. Yet there’s no word on whether the cottage leases will be extended past 2017.

The MNR seems determined to oust the cottagers from the park to the point that a number of the cottages feel bullied. Park superintendent Richard Post still faces assault charges after an altercation with an elderly cottage owner back in April.

But now there is a rather large wrinkle. A report that states why cottages at the park should be preserved from a cultural heritage landscape perspective is receiving national recognition.

“Rondeau, A Cultural Heritage Landscape,” commissioned by the Rondeau Cottager’s Association, outlines the role the cottages play as part of the park’s cultural and historical significance.

Further, The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (MTCS) is developing new guidelines for the conservation of heritage properties. The regulations outline how provincial ministries operate in terms of preserving cultural heritage.

A copy of the Rondeau report was sent to both the MTCS and MNR. While the latter may try to use it as toilet paper, the MTCS should give it a long look.

Report co-ordinator Wendy Whearer of MHBC Planning, Urban Design and Landscape, believes the report should help the province address the cottage issue at Rondeau.

She said using MTCS standards and guidelines, it is evident “the whole of the park is a provincially significant cultural landscape.”

The MTCS is still reviewing the document and for now refuses to take a stance on the cottage issue in Rondeau.

It’s time for someone at Queen’s Park to take notice of the plight of the cottagers at Rondeau, to take action to preserve the cultural significance of the cottages at the park and to actually work to see everyone and everything thrive at this ecological, cultural and heritage gem of a park.”

– Bruce Corcoran, bruce.corcoran@sunmedia.ca  Here is a link to the editorial in the Chatham Daily News

As a result, Brian French, an RCA Director, sent the following thank you to Bruce on behalf of the RCA Board:

Bruce,

Your editorial supporting Rondeau’s future is far more than we could have ever dreamed of.  We know the Minister of Natural Resources reads all CDN stories about Rondeau, as well as many of the Queen’s Park bureaucrats you refer to.  A copy has already been forwarded to the Minister’s office, as well as to the Director of Ontario Parks.  This will cascade through the entire MNR.  Hopefully it will be the wake-up call they need.

You have done a great service to the community by showing such strong support for Rondeau’s cottages, and Rondeau’s future.

Thank you!”