No disaster relief funding for cottages

Hopefully, you never have to deal with this, but it’s good to be aware of the situation. Cottagers in the Township of Greater Madawaska region of Eastern Ontario recently had a major windstorm tear through their area. The macroburst event uprooted or downed as many as 300,000 trees. The entire Bell Canada phone network around Norway Lake was destroyed and had to be rebuilt. Many cottages had storm damage and fallen trees blocked private roads leading to those cottages, on local lakes such as Norway and White.

The municipality has put in an application to the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program (ODRAP) for $1.9 million to help with the cleanup. Part of that funding is earmarked for clearing those private roads. Good thing, too, because here’s something that you may not be aware of: The provincial relief funding is available to private individuals to assist them to get back on their feet, but it is not available to help with some of the damage that cottagers may experience, such as private roads, recreational vehicles (such as boats or snowmobiles), retaining walls and other landscaping, nonessential furniture (such as outdoor furniture), and cottages themselves. The program is designed to assist when someone’s “essential property” has been damaged, i.e., your principal residence. If it’s your secondary residence and you have another home to go to, you are not eligible.

At a recent public meeting about the macroburst storm, held in the Calabogie Community Centre, many attendees, cottagers, were not aware that they were ineligible for disaster relief funding. Now that you know, make sure you have sufficient protection. The ODRAP website stresses that the program “is not an alternative or a substitute for adequate private insurance coverage and sound risk management.”