As might be expected, the boards of the 4 road associations have been inundated with questions and comments concerning the Apr. 24 road access closure to all but permanent residents. SERA discussed your concerns at a meeting Friday night and would like to share the following advice in the form of FAQs:
1. What is the purpose of the road restriction when we are driving through without stopping in a sealed vehicle?
The First Nation (FN) has determined that this is the best means of maintaining their safety. They have locked down the reserve, including the access road, not only to SERA cottagers, but to WBCA (leased lot members) and their own community. They are following steps taken by other reserves in Manitoba and Ontario. As well, they are following recommendations from health officials and governments for cottagers not to travel to their seasonal properties. This is not an arbitrary closure – it is based on extraordinary circumstances – a worldwide pandemic. In the attached Band Council Resolution (BCR) document, in response to a Health Emergency Declaration, the FN has the authority to create and enforce this Border Closure Order.
2. Are annual road fees still payable on normal due dates?
Yes. SERA is requesting that members continue to submit their access fee to their road association. One association’s fees were due May first and that payment has already been mailed to the FN. For the other 3 associations, it is necessary to have all individual fees in hand in May for payment to the FN by June 1. At this point in time it is the intent of the associations to pay in full according to our agreements.
3. I spend most of my time at the cottage – can an exception be made for me to be considered a permanent resident?
No, in the notice sent to members April 22, the FN spells out the criteria for a “permanent resident” as opposed to a “seasonal cottager”: Permanent residents should meet Ontario residency requirements (i.e. Ontario Health Card, Ontario Driver’s License, etc). Residents of Kenora are still considered “seasonal cottagers” with respect to this closure.
At the FN’s request, each road association has submitted names of their members who fit the criteria of permanent residents. Only those pass-holders will be allowed access.
4. Are there any exemptions for essential service or medical reasons?
SERA is requesting that members first notify their road associations with their concerns. In some cases, they may then be directed to Andy Graham, our conduit to the FN. Andy has granted a couple of exemptions already for essential service workers living at their cottage, and has assured individual permanent residents that regarding their medical appointments, they will be allowed through the checkpoint.
5. Are there any consequences if a cottager breaches any aspect of the Border Closure Order?
The attached Band Council Resolution states that Treaty Three Police has the authority to enforce the closure and the offences and consequences are spelled out.
6. How long will this closure last?
The BCR states that the closure will remain in effect until the provincial State of Emergency has been lifted, or by further order of Chief and Council rescinding the Health Emergency Declaration.
Your SERA board of directors understands the disruption that this pandemic has brought to the First Nation community and all cottage owners. We respect the difficult decisions that the Chief and council have had to make to protect the health and well- being of their community. While we are all anxious to enjoy the life we love at our cottages, we have to remain patient in these uncertain times.
If you have a questions or concerns please contact your road association representative. Stay safe! Stay healthy!