Saturday 2 April 2016

Social Media for the Cottage Associations Part 2

I have been cottaging pretty much since I was born. I have great memories of events organized by the Clearwater Beach Ratepayers Association when I was growing up. Since about 2000, I have had the pleasure of serving my cottage association. First as a volunteer for a number of years at our Fun Day/BBQ, then joining the board in a number of capacities, Secretary, then Vice President and now President. Part of the job of the board of a Cottage Association is keeping your members informed. Social Media can give you a great tool kit for both getting information and sharing it to your members.

This is the second of several posts on using Social Media for a cottage association. This post is the first of 2 focusing on the kinds of information you may want to pass along to your members.

The idea behind this series is that it is not so much a "this is what and how to do it' manual, but more a here are a bunch of ideas/tools you can pick and chose from. You need to figure out what works for you and your association. I will be using the sources that I use for my association as examples, you should be able to find similar sources in your area.

This will not be a static post, I will update it as errors are found or when someone sends me information that fits in. If I have missed a tool or source that you use, please let me know. I am always looking for ways to better serve our association. 


There are many of kinds of information that you may need to or want to pass on to your members. This is part 1 of a quick list and an overview of some of them:

This is a topic that comes up every year. We are locate in Tiny Township which is in Simcoe County which is in province of Ontario located in Canada. Our property taxes are determined by both Tiny and Simcoe. So starting in January, I try to keep an eye on budgeting process for both Tiny and Simcoe. The both have good websites and the local paper do a good job on reporting budget debates. The other item that determines our property taxes is the valuation of your property which is determined by Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC). The MPAC website is a great one, lots of good information there on how the system work and what to do if you think your assessment is wrong. FOCA has had them speak at seminars. just before the start of the last two assessment cycles.

Generally local by-laws can have a big impact on the cottage. 

Zoning changes can have an impact on the value of your members property.

Tiny Township enacted a new by-law banning the burning of leaves starting in 2016. This was in response to a number of incidences where the township fire department had to respond to leaf burning fires that got out of control. We posted about it as soon as we found out about it and we will repost about it sometime in April just to remind everyone before cottage opening time. 

If you find out about proposed changes you can fight them if your association feels they are detrimental to your cottage values. We found out about a plan to put in a number of street lights on our road. We did not think it was a good plan. We talked to another association that would be affected too and to several individual property owners that would be impacted as well. We started a email/letter writing program and several members went to and presented to council, and we were able to defeat the proposal. If we had not found out about it in the early stages who know how it would have played out.

Provincial & Federal Government
These levels of government have an impact too. 

If you have a lot members who fish in your association changes to the fishing rules and regulations for your area may be of importance. Those who only fish once or twice a year a less likely to keep up on the any changes..

If you are on or near the Trent-Severn or the Rideau waterways the Federal Government will have a huge impact on your boating enjoyment. I know a lot of boaters were not happy when they cut the number of lock crews and changed the hours of operation. 

The Provincial government's cover:
  • Air and water quality
  • Climate change
  • Fish and wildlife 
  • Maps 
  • Environmental assessments 
  • The electricity system 
  • Health care services and locations
  • Crown Land
  • Northern development
  • Ontario parks
  • Fishing and hunting
  • Tourism
  • And much more
The Federal Government covers:

  • Natural resources
  • National Conservation Plan
  • Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
  • Culture
  • History
  • Sports
  • Canada's Coast Guard
  • And much more

There is some overlap in their rolls.

Road construction
Road work affects all of us... 

If your municipality is going to be working on the road behind your cottage this summer maybe you do not want to schedule your 2 weeks at the cottage during the planned time of that work.

Is the main street in your local town going to have major work this summer? If so let your member know.

Is the
province planning major work for the main highway to your area? Let your members know early and often...  

     Here is a link to an post I did about work that is being planed for Hwy 400 in the 
Bradford area over the next few years.  It will have an impact on the Friday night drive to the cottage. By letting your members know early they can start thinking about options. If they are to the west of the 400 there are a number of options to explore and see what works best for them. If you are to the east, not a lot of options unless you want to drive around Lake Simcoe, or take Yonge Street north, or drive west past the 400 then go north. 


Your local fire department can keep you up to date on current fire hazard level. In Tiny they have a link on the front page of the township side to the current fire hazard level. If the level is extreme there may even be a fire ban. They also post fire safety tips. Even if the tips seem to be old news to you, there may be new people in your association that do not know about them.

Your local police department is a source of information. They can let you know if there are a rash of break-ins or any scams going on in the area. In Tiny the OPP are the local police force, I also follow the Midland, Barrie, and South Simcoe forces. 

If you are on the Great Lakes or the St. Lawrence river, following the Canadian Coast Guard is a very good idea. In the winter you can find out about ice breaking operations in your area. Lots of good information for new boaters is on their site.

Weather alerts are very important. Tornados and Ice Storms are just two examples very bad weather events. I try to repost weather alerts for our area as soon as I see them. 

Weather forecasts
     Weather is a major driver for what you are going to do that the cottage. 

     I usually take a screenshot from my one of my weather apps and post it on our Facebook page showing the 7 day forecast on wednesday before a long weekend. it can start a conversation of "saturday night is not looking great, let's move the party to sunday night". On the long weekends you tend to have more days and nights to plan and a little more flexibility on going to and coming home from the cottage. How many of us add a day on to the long weekend?

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