Campers and cottage owners in Nova Scotia must decide: Should I stay or should I go?
HALIFAX -- When the calendar turned to 2021, Mark Candow’s cottage was nearly booked for the year.
The Elmsdale, N.S. resident rents his Windsor-area cottage through the booking website Airbnb, but with tightened COVID-19 restrictions in place throughout Nova Scotia, a number of his bookings were forced to cancel.
He says even he and his family are unable to visit the cottage because of the current public health guidelines.
“It’s pretty much shut down,” Candow explains. “It’s just sitting there vacant, and you know, it’s in the middle of the woods on a very private lot, to the point where there’s no safer place to be if you’re in the woods.”
Candow says while he understands why the restrictions are in place, his family will miss spending time at their seasonal camping site in the Annapolis Valley this weekend because they are unable to stay for the entire season due to their work schedules.
“We would come and go,” Candow explains. “We paid our seasonal fees now we’re just waiting. That’s really unfortunate, my kids really look forward to that.”
On Wednesday, the province announced current public health restrictions would remain in place across Nova Scotia until at least the second week of June.
That means provincial park campgrounds will remain closed, private campgrounds can only be open for seasonal campers, and no short-term camping is allowed at this time.
Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health said people can go to their cottage or seasonal campsite outside their community, only if they are staying there for the season.
Dr. Robert Strang says residents cannot go back and forth between these places and their primary residence.
“People can go to a seasonal home if you’re lucky enough to be able to make a choice, whether it’s going with an RV to a seasonal campground, or going to a cottage, or some other," Dr. Strang explained in an interview with CTV News on Wednesday evening.
"Go there, but it has to be one time and that then becomes where you’re going to live and your local community for the next number of weeks. You cannot go back and forth. Many people are struggling right now, financially, employment-wise, and if people are privileged to have two places to live they can’t go back and forth.”
Many Nova Scotians view the long weekend of May as the unofficial start of summer.
The owner of a campground just outside of Yarmouth,N.S. says they cancelled a large number of bookings for this weekend.
Castle Lake Campground has about 250 campsites.
“Our opening weekend is really busy and then the next big weekend is July 1st,” explains campground owner Walter Spinney. “The opening weekend is always busy.”
Spinney says he would like to see the province clarify the rules surrounding restrictions and where people can travel to camp because Yarmouth County includes the Town of Yarmouth, the Municipality of Yarmouth and the Municipality of Argyle.
“The problem is nobody really knows the gist of if they’re allowed to come," Spinney explains.
Spinney says he understands people "can’t travel back-and-forth to their house," but in the meantime, a lot of people commute for work and would visit on weekends.
"So they can’t do that,” Spinney says. “From what we’re understanding.”
In Dartmouth, Benjamin Merry and his father were looking forward to visiting their Chester,N.S.-area cottage this weekend.
“The rules that are in place now probably aren’t for people like me and my father. It’s for, you know, people that are not going to respect the rules, that are going to go into a community like that with three carloads of four people to a cabin, and run all around town.”
Merry says while it’s an unfortunate situation, but he understands why it’s important to follow public health protocols as we work together to slow the spread of the virus.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada says in particular situations like this one, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open with your insurance company.
“In circumstances where an individual, the owner of a property, can’t go to inspect their property and maintain it, if you will, due to circumstances such as COVID-19, and also where they cannot have someone check the property for them due to the same circumstances, basically, they should call their insurance representative just to let them know what their particular situation is,” explains Amanda Dean, Vice President Atlantic of the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
“Now with a typical homeowner’s policy, when we’re away for more than seven days, it’s always good practice and expected that you’ll call your insurance representative and they’ll let you know what the wording of your policy is, and typically it means they would like to have someone check your property every single day.”
Dean says in the end, it’s important to check your insurance policy. Dean says by giving a call to your insurance representative, the broker or agent will be aware of your current circumstances so they can have a note to file in case a loss does occur.