A Message From Muskoka’s Mayors And The District Chair To All Residents


Dear Friends and Neighbours,

This global pandemic is affecting all of our lives in ways that none of us could have imagined. It is our hope that this writing finds each of you and your families well and committed to continuing the great work you have all been doing in fighting the spread of this insidious virus. Through your efforts, our Muskoka communities have remained relatively safe and healthy compared to so many others.

We are all so very thankful for our frontline healthcare professionals, first responders and essential goods and services providers that are keeping us safe and ensuring that our necessities of life continue to be available in these times of uncertainty. They are our heroes!

We must remain positive and continue to be vigilant by following the advice and direction of both our Federal and Provincial leaders as well as their respective public health experts.

Together, we are making a difference!

Let us remind ourselves that all our residents – both year round and seasonal – are valued, and recognize that we share a long tradition of coming together to support one another.

Now is not the time for divisive attitudes or the propagation of negative “us versus them” social commentary relative to seasonal versus permanent residents. For that type of behaviour is counter-intuitive to our Canadian values and falls far short of reflecting the sentiment of the vast majority of Muskoka residents. We are all in this together.

As our higher authorities begin to turn their attention to the next steps in the transition to a new normal, may each of us commit to following the existing guidelines and directives relative to our own personal actions and activities. Should you elect to either leave or come to Muskoka you must:
– purchase provisions in advance and self-quarantine as appropriate,
– self-isolate and limit all public interaction,
– do not congregate in groups,
– practice social (physical) distancing measures,
– wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face and mouth,
– consider face coverings.

Now is not the time to forsake our efforts to date. All the experts suggest that continued diligence in the short term will facilitate favourable long term results.

May you all be safe!



  1. In response to this letter from the mayors. This is not negative “us versus them”. I agree. “We” are all in this together….that is why, at these times, we – all of us should stay home! If seasonal residents come north and continue to come north it’s because for them it’s about “me”…not “we”. I want my family and myself to be healthy and alive in order to “share that long time tradition of coming together”. Yes Muskoka and surrounding areas has stayed relatively Covid-19 free. The only way to keep it that way is for everyone to stay at their primary residents.

    • Well I feel like coming up and plan to. Will launch my boat at Hanna Park if the marinas won’t be open. My kids can play in the Park I subsidize. If I feel like getting groceries at IGA I will go as my taxes help support infrastructure for their operation too. Last stop LCBO to stand in line with the townie regulars and other cottages all coming together. My speedboat will be tied at the dock my taxes pay for. Can’t wait for Vic Day. See you then Evert.

  2. Cottagers feel entitled to come up and do whatever they want because they pay the majority of very high taxes for very few services. Do they also pay $2,400/year for water and sewer like the residents in town? Nope. 
    Cottagers could be next.
    If you are not connected (cottagers or otherwise) and get an unexpected letter from the District, like many already have recently, make sure you are sitting down.

    Mayor Smith said the District’s water and sewer cost is “UNSUSTAINABLE”, “ALARMING”, “UNACCEPTABLE”, “people are struggling to pay their bills”. Capital costs are “incredible”. “Per user cost of capital I can’t imagine is even close to anybody else”.  This was all before Covid-19 hit residents. Muskoka Lakes Mayor Harding laughed at the cost. He is on the lake so doesn’t pay water and sewer, so far.  

    Cottagers should consider themselves lucky to avoid, so far, the District’s exorbitant cost services.
    Cottagers get FREE, unlimited municipal water at filling stations. Residents are forced to pay $200/month. $100/month even if they are away and have ZERO usage.

    The District is desperate to get more people paying their exorbitant cost for services even though there is nothing wrong with resident’s existing, much cheaper, independent services. They admitted on TV to illegally attempting to force people to hook up. They are that desperate. They are trying to force people to hook up again right now.  

    Cottagers could be next. That would explain why many of the water and sewer plants are only at 25-50% capacity. They are designed to handle the cottagers. 

    Julie Stevens (finance) admitted Muskoka is the highest cost in Ontario for water and sewer. $42,000 to hookup typically compared to $12,000 for comparable communities. 

    If Muskoka has a cash cow of cottagers why are taxes so high? Because the District blows 10s of millions every year on mostly little, toy water and sewer plants. 18 in total!! 

    Search “Oppose Bracebridge Sewers” for documentation on the website including video of the massive cost discussion at District of Muskoka Council.  

    • I pay $2k a year for a small cottage near baysville. I have no municipal or sewer water services, bring my own drinking water and maintain my own road. I drop an average of two bags of garbage a month at the baysville dump, and previously bought most of my supplies at the baysville gas station.

      Please dont be so entitled and selfish in your lecturies. Refrain from lumping us all together in one lot.

      • So you pay much less in tax than residents in town pay just for water and sewer!!
        That is the point. Cottagers are getting off easy.
        If you ask most of them they think they are hard done by because of the tax they pay for the little services they get. They have no idea.

  3. If you take a typical property tax amount on a $400K property in town and add the $2,400/year for water and sewer it’s actually cheaper to live on the lake in Muskoka at a million dollar cottage than in town in many cases. How bad is that? Most cottagers are not aware of that. They are the ones getting off easy.

      • Correct. You absolutely do NOT want to be on District water and sewer. Highest cost in Ontario by FAR for connections and services.

        Many people aren’t aware they are paying so much because the District hides a big part of the cost on their property taxes!! under District Water A and District Sewer A. Cottagers don’t pay those charges, so far. Most of the residents the District is trying to force to hook up right now are ignoring them. Will likely be another battle with residents.

        They illegally tried to force my neighbourhood to hook up by ambushing us at Christmas with the letter and not telling us we had the right to stop them with a petition and not telling us the entire cost and not stopping immediately when we did get a petitition. All illegal. 3 violations.

        Worst group of people we have ever come across.

        They had always told people their rights previously (as required legally) but every time they did that with other neighbourhoods they were rejected. So this time, with us, they tried it illegally.

        We found out our rights anyway, fought back, and won.

        There is no affordable housing in town once you include the cost of water and sewer. Build on the lake where it’s cheaper to live. Or build on a much cheaper, much larger, much nicer, UNSERVICED lot beyond the District’s reach.

  4. Where do i sign up for water and sewage at $2400 per year? Happy to do so. Muskoka is supposed to be a year round community. That is what elected politicians tell us. So i invested and now come weekends year round. I am a secondary resident and not seasonal. I earn a living in toronto so i can invest in muskoka. If you refund my property taxes and seasonal (premium) hydro distribution charge – and cover me for checking my property as required by insurance i might be willing to stay home. I have rights too.

    • The point is the $2,400/year for water and sewer is ON TOP of very high taxes for people in town.
      There is a breakdown of the $2,400 on a chart from the District on the “Oppose Bracebridge Sewers” website.
      Cottagers avoid all those massive charges.
      You absolutely do NOT want to be on District water and sewer. Highest cost in Ontario by FAR for connections and services.

      • Rage? Yes. Unresolved rage.
        Wouldn’t you be enraged if some local government/bunch of thieves illegally tried to make you pay tens of thousands of dollars up front to connect to their exorbitant system plus thousands more every year forever?
        Then you find out they did it illegally because every other time they tried it legally they were rejected?
        And even when they admitted on TV they did it illegally nothing is done?
        So, of course, they are doing it again?
        If you or I had done the same thing we would be in jail.
        It turns out local government is immune to any provincial (Municipal Act) or federal (Criminal Code) laws.
        Putting residents through major stress at Christmas including the stress of possibly losing their home is just fine.
        Par for the course in Muskoka.

        • Residents in Huntsville were also enraged the District planned to force “Financially Devastating” sewers on them against their wishes.
          The District document PW-4-2015-1 on that one actually says “Information that was provided to residents in this second circulation WARNED them that should there be a significant investment in the road at some point in the future, sanitary sewers would likely be installed without seeking their level of support for the project.”
          Also totally illegal. So not the first time. Mens Rea.
          WARNED? Or they will break your legs?
          In Huntsville the District threatened residents with illegal action.
          In Bracebridge they went ahead with illegal action.
          Par for the course in Muskoka.

    • Not true at all. There is a chart from the District on the website showing the tax levy for water and sewer.
      The charges for water and sewer are put on the property tax bill under District Water A and District Sewer A. Ask anyone in town to look at their tax bill if they are hooked up to water and sewer. It’s true most municipalities do not do this. Muskoka does.

      • Around $800-$900/year!! tax levy for water and sewer shown only on the property tax bill. Depends on your assessment. Only those “near” District pipes pay that charge. Even if they are not actually hooked up. The pipes could be on a different street, not your address, and 220 ft away requiring you to blast through solid rock to hook up. Doesn’t matter, pay up or lose your house.

    • The District of Muskoka couldn’t care less what provincial legislation says because there is zero enforcement. See 3 violations above.
      They also tried to keep $300,000 that did not belong to them in a tax mistake. Zero ethics at the District as well. They actually blamed residents for not noticing the District’s error.
      Video of a previous mayor and District chair scolding District staff for trying to “get away with” keeping the $300K is also on the website including the CAO Duben blaming residents for not noticing the District’s error.
      Worst group of people we have ever come across.

  5. Cottage owners are really showing their entitlement. Yes they have the right to go to their property. What they don’t have (and what money can never buy) are MORALS and ETHICS.
    Thank you cottagers for proving to us locals (you know, the ones who can ONLY afford one house) what we already know.

  6. Back to the Point just because you own a cottage any where does not entitle anyone to disobey the law of not staying home. They federal government asks you to stay home the ppl you pay your taxes to, paying taxes of any amount or sort again does not entitle you to leave your home. This just shows your ignorance.

  7. The problem is some people will not obey the guidelines. Those who don’t, risk infecting an entire region. Those who are concerned – take a spin around your towns over the long weekend and take pictures to send to your local leadership to show how well this approach is working. I am hopeful for a pleasant surprise…I doubt it though.

    Never forget – presumed entitlement is an effect of having too much money. I suspect you drive a Porsche or Tesla Boss Hog?

  8. Maybe time for some people to just relax. I think we all know that you can’t change the mind of an ignorant ingrate anyway. The vast majority of locals and seasonal residents get along perfectly normal, and why should it be any different? There is always an A-hole in every group. As a Muskoka local, I’ve been embarrassed of these hillbillies for my entire life…you know the ones, the uneducated toothless wonders wandering around smelling like fuel and looking like the woke up in a dumpster.
    Don’t let the vocal minority paint all the locals with the same brush. Those of us with teeth, an education, professional careers welcome our seasonal residents with open arms!!

  9. What on Earth with what a person drives have anything to do with your argument?
    I’m a local resident, I drive a Tesla SUV…house on a lake, boats in the boathouse.
    Just because you can’t afford my luxuries, doesn’t make you anymore local than me.

  10. Cottage owners who pay these public officials wages more than locals should make it a POINT to have each and every one of these mayors removed form office next election. DON”T EVEN THINK of sending any of your residents to the city for expert health care

  11. 33 positive tests from cottagers who then went back to their home districts. This was from ONE family (lots of money who’s last name rhymes with dodgers) that brought a horde of ppl up to their cottages to ‘ride out the lockdown’. Local company is currently sanitizing all the cottages.
    Is this the type of economic help that cottagers feel is helping our community?


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