Cottage Travel During the Pandemic

[Ashleigh Weeden, standing outside, speaking to the camera]

Hi. I’m Ashleigh Weeden. I’m a PhD candidate in rural studies in the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development in the Ontario Agricultural College at the University of Guelph.

My research is focused on place-based rural innovation and future-oriented public policy and I was recently interviewed by Anne Helen Peterson at BuzzFeed News for an article called ‘The Pandemic is Not Your Vacation,’ which highlights a number of the risks and vulnerabilities of rural communities as we all deal with COVID-19.

This is a particularly important time to be thinking about these risks and vulnerabilities, as typically at this time of year, we might be thinking about what we would have
been doing to go visit families for Easter or Passover or even thinking about opening our cabin or cottage for the season. We’re seeing a lot of influencers and maybe even your friends and family talking about going to their cabin, cottage or a second property in a rural area in order to ride out the pandemic.

In short, this is a very bad idea.

Rural places are resilient; however, our health care system in rural areas is not set up to deal with the added pressures of seasonal residents or vacationers
coming at a time when we’re already in crisis. This is a really important time to think about the ways in which you might support rural communities as weall deal with the pandemic together.

Some of the things that you can do while staying home include buying gift certificates to restaurants or vendors or organizations that are in your cabin or cottage community where you would normally be spending the summer in terms of using them for when you get to come back later. Other ways you may support these communities is by donating to food banks and organizations that do social services support in rural and remote areas.

But truly, the most important way that you can support rural Canada during the COVID-19 crisis is by staying home. If you don’t get your mail there or your primary care physician is not nearby, that shouldn’t be where you’re riding out the pandemic.

Stay safe, stay well and help us all get through this together.