Hello Star Lake community members.
To put the writer into some sort of context, I want to let you know that I rarely come up in the winter. My cottage is used as a seasonal escape for rest and relaxation from the May 2-4, until about Thanksgiving weekend, so please understand that the following is not from a bias associated with being entirely self-serving. No one asked me to send this out. I just think all of us need to be educated to some degree on an issue that, whether we use our cottages in the winter or not, affects us all.
As a person that has been on the lake since about 1996; one of the things I loved best about being up here was the sense of community that existed from Day One. Before we bought, teams would be assembled to fill in pot holes by hand. Teams were assembled on the Thanksgiving weekend to work together to clear the brush from the side of the road. The Fun Days, the corn roasts, all contributed to us all pulling together to combine community with our own needs for privacy when we wanted it.
As someone who is interested in community; I decided to attend the meeting held by the Winter Road Committee to understand why I was contributing money to the plowing, even though I had very little intention to drive on it in the winter. I came away with the conclusion that it is money well spent.
Why supporting winter plowing is good:
I had heard at the AGM that our insurance premiums are unaffected by having an accessible road, during the winter, to our cottage. I followed up on this and was told by an insurance expert that insurance premiums are ALWAYS associated with risk management. A plowed road provides access. Access can mean the difference between one cottage burning to the ground, or many. While some companies might not have a special line or discount in place; it is just folded into the risk factor as a premium is determined.
Cottages have become more than 2×4 shacks. Hiring a contractor to shovel your roof in the winter would be impossible if the road wasn’t REGULARLY cleared. Whether it is done once a season, or five times. The road needs to be cleared after every snowfall, or accumulations would make snow blowing extremely difficult.
Finally, a good road is very much a part of the reputation of a cottage community. A bad road can negatively influence the value of each and every separate property, while an effective access road can do the opposite. Currently, our road is in the best condition it has ever been in. The group as a whole, agreed a few years back to raise our fees to establish a budget that would give us enough money to do preventative maintenance instead of always just responding. The proactive approach has resulted in a better road.
Karen Gillies will send out details of how we all contribute towards the winter road plowing in an upcoming letter and it was determined at the meeting I attended, that the formula will remain status quo to how things were handled last year.
Now, here is what is at the crux of this issue, in my opinion. I don’t have to organize anything. For my hundred bucks, a contractor is engaged. The road is accessible to my driveway if, for any reason, I want to check on things. I’m contributing to something that adds something positive to our community and I have just a little more peace of mind that if I ever have to; I can get to my cottage a lot easier.
Star Lake has the potential to be what most of us want. A community that we can actively participate within, or experience seclusion and privacy as our choice of lifestyle. My feeling is that a healthy mix of both starts with us understanding that a cooperative approach to what is fundamentally our common denominator, the road, summer or winter, is a positive choice for the majority.
Feel free to comment, pro or con, as we find a way to work together and be more than the sum of our parts.
Jan and I really enjoy the people we meet day to day as we walk the road with our dog Tucker. It seems like the best way to meet people in our neighbourhood. With that in mind, we were thinking about establishing a weekend walk starting next Spring. Dog, no dog, kids and/or relatives. Nothing formal. More like an understanding that there is a meet up spot and off we go to Turtle Lake Road and back. Who knows? It might evolve into a hiking group to take advantage of the Seguin, or the trail that leads to the falls by the old fish hatchery by Bent River?? Some of us will have nothing more in common than having a dog, or just a shared love of what Cottage Life magazine extolls. Maybe kids will get to know other kids their own age that will bring an extra highlight to coming up to the cottage, but most importantly I think it will help us think of our seasonal experience in Community. If you are interested in me following up (with a much shorter note) simply send an email, and I will keep you posted. I’ll post a sign at the Morningside / Star Lake Woods Road sign as a reminder in the Spring.
Jan & Brian Spiteri
121 Star Lake Woods Road