6 real estate trends

The trends shaping this year's cottage market and the next

By Jay TeitelJay Teitel

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5. Lakeside activism is on the rise

In the spring of 2010, a group of cottagers on a lake in Quebec’s Laurentian region got together to purchase the local general store at one end of the lake, which had been put up for sale. It was an important decision because the lake has no ser-
vice road around it and is mainly water access—an outside buyer wouldn’t necessarily have preserved the property as is. Indeed, that outside buyer could very easily have been a developer intending to put up condominiums or at least sever the 0.8-hectare site into several smaller cottage lots, sparking a population surge that would have put greater pressure 
on the lake’s ecosystems.

This new private real-estate activist initiative in Quebec cottage country 
follows a recent program in one Ontario municipality. In 2010, Rideau Lakes Township passed a bylaw decreeing that any newly severed lots on lakes in the area had to have a minimum of 200 feet of waterfront and comprise at least an acre in total. Again, the aim is ecologically laudable: The new severance regulation will help the Rideau area avoid the overcrowding that has affected other cottage areas, and avoid possible shoreline erosion and septic overload.

The problem with the Quebec and Ontario examples is the paradox facing all cottagers on lakes everywhere in the country. No matter how pure the motive—and in both cases, the primary motives are definitely pure: preservation of a traditional business on the one hand, ecology on the other—the initiatives have the unintentional side effect of making it more difficult for other people, and particularly people of modest means, 
to ever own lakeside property. To build a new cottage in Rideau Township, they have to be able to afford a decidedly large, expensive lot. And to buy a cottage on that Quebec lake, they have to wait for one of the very entrenched locals to sell.

By the way, what does a 1,200-sq.-ft. year-round lakefront cottage go for in the Laurentians these days, where skiing is so popular that some hotel owners in the area consider summer the “low season”? $450,000 to $500,000.

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