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Tay council wants seasonal residents to stay home

Short-term rentals also discussed at council meeting.

Stay in your primary residence and don't travel to your cottage.

That's the resounding message Tay council wants Greater Toronto Area seasonal residents to hear.

"I've just noticed of late that people in some areas are seeing more traffic from seasonal residents," said Coun. Jeff Bumstead. "I understand the moral obligations to follow what the premier says, but for some reason people are not following the message. I know there was some discussion in the emergency control group, that if someone calls to have their water turned back on, we could ask them not to come up.

"It's difficult to refuse them," he added.

Coun. Mary Warnock agreed: "If we don't have legislation, we don't have a leg to stand on. All we can do is tell them not to come, but we can't stop them from coming."

Daryl O'Shea, director of technology and communications, said one of the reasons the municipality hadn't been aggressive in its messaging for seasonal residents was because council hadn't discussed it.

"If you want that done now, we would certainly do that," he said. "The issue we face is that the media releases typically get picked up by local media, sometimes Barrie media, but it's the GTA residents we're trying to deter and they're not going to see those.

"We heavily rely on our website and Twitter. A lot of our followers on Twitter are out-of-town residents and it's our best reach. We will hit every method we have."

As well, Warnock commended the township's bylaw officers, whom she has seen patrolling township trails, noting "people have been really good in following the rules."

While Deputy Mayor Gerard LaChapelle agreed with Warnock and Bumstead, he said he's also been noticing an increase in a different kind of traffic.

"Just along the lines of Coun. Warnock about the trail and whatnot, I do echo that," said LaChapelle. "I do walk around the beaches and I see a lot of empty cottages. My issue is ATVs on our roads. That's a concern I have. I can guarantee I see five or seven ATVs everyday."

Planning and development director Steve Farquharson said enforcement around that issue and ensuring non-essential businesses remain closed comes under the OPP's purview.

Farquharson also provided information around short-term rentals in the area.

"If you had rented the short-term facility before April 4, and came to use it, that's fine," he noted. "If you're booking now, it should only be for emergency housing."

As well, Farquharson said, gatherings of of five or more people are not allowed.

"We're only enforcing that on public property," he said. "If it's on private property, that's the OPP doing it."

Bumstead said the best the township could do was to put out more messaging around these concerns.

"We should put out something more other than just the website," he said. "We could either do a media release or a message from the mayor."