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LETTER: Rondeau scheme inconsistent with Chatham-Kent’s ‘climate emergency’

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If Chatham This Week columnist Karen Robinet is still wondering why the municipality is hoping to buy up the best land in Rondeau Provincial Park, the answer is money.

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Though the CAO failed to mention it in the outreach to leaseholders, I have no doubt the new taxes on private lots will also be based on prices outside the park. Perhaps $5,000 or $6,000 a year for lots on Bowman and Evangeline, up to $12,000 for the waterfront lots, and $10,000 for the water view cottages on Lakeshore Road.

That’s quite a change for members of the Rondeau Cottagers Association who went to court to fight against paying their own $2,000 in taxes. They lost that battle and their subsequent appeal.

As private landowners inside a provincial park, the new arrangement should end the supposed “historical rights” long claimed by the association to damage protected habitat by pulling up native flora and dumping their watercraft etc. in the beach dunes. This is the only positive of the plan. When their only contribution to Rondeau is buying yearly passes, homeowners should have no more “rights” to trespass on Crown land than any camper or day user.

]Some sort of barrier will probably be necessary to keep folks on their own lots and allow the beach dunes to regenerate, though the Ontario government is unlikely to provide funds to support the removal of non-native trees and plants that have escaped from leaseholds to the dunes.

When the so-called “heritage” cottages are torn down by the wealthiest landowners to make way for lot-covering McMansions their taxes will undoubtedly go up. And renting your cottage to help pay for upkeep and a far larger tax bill will be much less profitable with only a water “view” and no direct access to the beach and lake.

I believe that in 10 years or so it will be impossible to spend the summer at Rondeau with only open windows and fans for cooling. With night temperatures rising more quickly than the daytime temps there will be no chance for people or buildings to cool down. Falling asleep to the sounds of wind and waves will be replaced by the drone of the neighbours’ AC compressors.

Chatham-Kent’s declaration of the “climate emergency” is just meaningless public relations when they’re desperate to turn summer cottages into year-round homes with large carbon footprints.

Linda Hind

Chatham

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