April 2, 2020
The State of Emergency (SOE) continues across Ontario, including Saugeen First Nation.
The request to stay home and not visit your cottage remains in effect.
SCOI strongly supports the Band’s request to stay home and not visit your cottage.
Since the SOE was declared, we have received a number of requests asking about what would happen if a lessee was discovered at their cottage. Some cottagers have expressed support for staying home and serious concern and anger over those among us they believe to be intending to visit their cottage anyway. Unfortunately, we have received many more messages from lessees who have found all kinds of reasons why they should be allowed to go to their cottage. With the continuation of the SOE, SCOI wants to emphasize that the Band has made it clear that you are to stay home.
Unless your cottage is your only Canadian home, there is no reason for you to go there.
This is consistent with the advice of the Prime Minister, the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Canada, the Premier of Ontario as well as the local Medical Officer of Health.
Again, there is no reason for you to go to your cottage. To do so is putting people and whole communities at risk.
To help you appreciate how serious municipal authorities in Bruce County are about urging cottagers staying home, the Mayor of Huron-Kinloss, the municipality immediately south of Port Elgin, has issued a formal declaration that cottagers and trades are forbidden to turn on water at cottages. Those who do are subject to fines of up to $100k and up to one year in jail under the Ontario Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
Janice Jackson, mayor of South Bruce Peninsula, has directed the fire department to routinely visit beaches and parks to determine if anyone is present. Anyone found there may be subject to enforcement action.
Although we have no word yet from the Band, they are equally clear that we are to stay away for the protection of the community.
For those of you who are at home, we suggest that you read the lease document that you signed back in 2011 or when you purchased your cottage and started your lease. To review a generic copy of the current lease, please click here. This can also be found on any page under ‘about SCOI’, the second item is a copy of the current lease.
We will have a post in the next few days about options for SCOI members to have their property checked.
Service fee payments
After the State of Emergency was first declared, SCOI asked the Band Council to consider deferring the payment due date or partitioning the cost into smaller more affordable installments.
The Council agreed to defer the payment deadline by 60 days to June 1st
without any late fee charges. Unless we hear differently, Service Fees are due on June 1, 2020. Late fees will apply if the payment is made after June 1st.
2020 Lease payment
The 2020 lease payment is due on May 1, 2020.
Many lessees have asked if the lease payment and the lease amount will be adjusted because of COVID19. We do not anticipate that any adjustments will be made to the amount or the deadline for payment. The lease is a lease and it is our legal obligation to adhere to the terms of the lease. Our leases are with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The Band has no control over and cannot make changes to the lease agreement once it is signed. It would be up to the federal government to make changes to the lease including the lease amounts or the payment deadline. This would involve the Department of Indigenous Services and the Department of Justice. Given the current emergency, we do not see the federal government being prepared to undertake this. Please pay your lease on time to avoid late fees.
There are a number of other issues we are following and have already reported on. If there is new information or a change in our understanding of what is happening, we will be sure to let you know.
Thank you for your continued support. I hope you are all keeping safe and staying in touch with family, friends and your cottage neighbours (electronically) as we all do our part to get through this pandemic safely.
David Shearman, SCOI President