It certainly does feel like the McGuinty government is slapping Muskoka in the face. Why leave us out of economic development opportunities? Are we not worthy? Are they still painting us all with the same brush, assuming we all live and play on millionaire’s row?
Somebody in provincial government must’ve noticed that Muskoka was conveniently being left out.
When your industrial sector has substantially weakened and your primary economic driver is tourism, there is a lot to worry about.
The first thing to go during soft economic times are the toys and frills — no more cottage rentals, dinners out, water toys or overnight stays and spas. People start cutting the leisure out of their lives, and that impacts areas like ours that are geared for tourism.
Technology is also changing the way we do business and in an area with unstable connections and higher-than-usual costs (Internet wireless hubs), we could use all the economic development incentives we can get.
Resort owners, municipal representatives and lawyers representing waterfront property owners hoping to make returns on their investment met to discuss the demise of the old-style resort. They urged district staff to loosen restrictions around waterfront development and while we understand profitability has decreased, and it’s time for some reinvention and rejuvenation, we urge environmental protections not take a backseat.
Again it is difficult to understand what the province was thinking in excluding us from economic development incentive boundaries. We’re well above the provincial unemployment rate and our Ontario Works cases are uncomfortably high. So, leaving us out of the loop seems a bit like sour grapes. We have faith that McGuinty’s provincial government is above playing party politics with people’s livelihood. So then, how is it that the province can be so incredibly out of touch?
Their planned divestment of the Ontario Northlander is just another example. Why throw the baby out with the dirty bathwater?
Ramping up marketing campaigns to encourage more people to use the train and making it more reliable would’ve been a good start. Marketing rail to international travellers as a comfortable way to travel is a superb idea. It could also help lighten congestion on the 400-series highways.
There is no notable beneficial impact to dropping the train other than the funds the sale will bring to provincial coffers. If that is the case, we hope those funds are distributed among communities most impacted with the loss.
And while McGuinty isn’t making any friends here, if the train is sold to the private sector it may become a lot more reliable.
To our politicians we say: don’t turn the other cheek, keep reminding the province that there’s a whole other world out here. One made up of interconnected communities with residents who make their homes and fight for their livelihoods here.