This is MY town, buddy.

Although I live in a town with a population of about 150 people, the surrounding district, with a population of 6500,  is a maven for tourists. The population in both increases about 1000% from May until November. I don’t have much respect for tourists, because tourists don’t have much respect for locals. I’ve heard it said that locals should only be allowed to grocery shop on Sundays during tourist season, when the tourists are heading home, and that we should be asked to avoid town during the week while the tourists collect their marshmallows. 
   Some of these tourists own property up here, they’ve built cottages and hunt camps, or cleared the land to park their trailers. They pay taxes, albeit less than what I pay as a permanent resident, and they get a vote.                      

Where I live, it’s like camping all year-round. I can walk out the door and find a bear climbing a tree.


Or a deer eating the garden.


Or a rattler in the grass.


But I can’t have high-speed access to the internet.
Because the tourists don’t want to see a cell tower poking out among the trees.
   When you are a permanent resident in places like this, you don’t notice things like radio towers, because you can’t see the forest for the trees. When you visit, from a place without trees, the first thing you notice are the things you left the city to avoid for a weekend. The extra 14,800 people in the area during tourist season make up a very large constituency during a town vote.

   My husband, who is also a full-time mechanic, is a full-time fire-fighter where we live.

He’s the fellow with the jaws that will cut you out of the car you crashed on the highway heading in to town for more beer. He’s the fellow who does fundraisers to purchase equipment to save lives, because when you leave the city for the weekend, you don’t think you’ll need life-saving at the resort. The extra 14,800 people in the area during tourist season make up a very large constituency during a town vote.

These days, we have a new fire chief in town. Very metropolitan, from the big city, with ideas to make our town better. The bureaucracy of how he got the job aside, he envisions an amalgamation of townships, a coming together if you will of rural communities into a large conglomerate. He’s convincing. He came up with grand plans at the firehall Tuesday night, working the fire-fighters up into a frenzy about larger this and larger that. But he forgets he’s a tourist in the end. The extra 14,800 people in the area during tourist season make up a very large constituency during a town vote.

Now, I must admit, I’m an Urban Refugee myself. Born and raised in the big city, setting down roots in a small town. There are reasons we settled here, priorities set in motion. We’re well integrated in our community, which is open to change. But, the extra 14,800 people in the area during tourist season make up a very large constituency during a town vote. Residents know what they need, tourists only know what they want to see on the weekends. They want time away from their cell phones, don’t want to be tempted to check emails. They’ll pay for their lattes and support the economy buying souvenirs, but when it comes to amenities they draw the line. After all, isn’t life without amenities what camping’s all about?

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5 Comments

  1. willowbatel said,

    February 11, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I love the wilderness. But if I was to live in the forest, I would want a cell phone tower.
    You wanna know something magical? It’s called a power button people. You don’t HAVE to get online while you’re on vacation.

  2. gigisanchez said,

    February 12, 2010 at 12:57 am

    The tourists must own property there, right, that’s why they get to vote?

    • February 12, 2010 at 8:42 am

      Yes, if they own any piece of land in the district, they get voting rights. Unfortunately for local residents, they make their vote influenced by their investment, rather than what’s best for the towns. There is a Cottage Association who’s member base is over 50,000 strong. They are city dwellers who work collectively to maintain the perfect recreational environment. They are not interested in the well-being of the residents. This puts restrictions on the daily lives of the people who live and work here. They make decisions based on what will raise the value of their land, or what will make their stay a little more convenient. A silly example is, recently there has been restrictions placed on the amount of wood a resident can clear from their land. Any one who lives here, who uses wood for heat knows how to selectively choose trees to log, without burdening the environment. There’s quite a science involved, but it keeps the forests healthy and everyone uses the same patterns. Anyone who lives here knows that the winters are harsh, power goes out, and sometimes the only option is to heat your home and cook your food on a woodstove. I don’t own enough land to harvest my wood in an efficient amount, so I purchase it from a fellow down the road who owns thousands of acres, who harvests it for people like me. Recent restrictions by the Cottage Association votes limit the amount of wood he can harvest (now, keep in mind, this property has been in this man’s family for generations, each generation learning from the previous how to work the land) Being in his late 70’s, the selling of wood is his primary income through the winter. He is no longer allowed to harvest enough wood to fulfill the needs of those who buy from him, thereby lowering his income for the season. The original intent of the Cottage Association was to prevent *new* cottage dwellers from clearing too much land to build their summer homes, which sounds good in theory, but when it’s in the works, it causes more harm than good. They didn’t take into account how their vote was going to impact the residents, they only took into account whether they wanted to see their new neighbour’s house through the trees across the way.

  3. March 16, 2010 at 10:26 am

    […] season is coming, tourist season. The season when the cottagers come north to open their summer homes, to bask in the shade of […]


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