The Rondeau Cottage Community:

Myths vs. Facts

Correcting Misinformation About Ontario's Original Cottage Community

Myth: Lease fees are a bargain and don't cover the costs of having cottages in the park.

Fact: Our leases are only one of four fees cottage owners pay to the province every year. In additional to our annual Lease fee we also pay an annual Service Fee, an annual Payment In-Lieu of Taxes, plus we also have to purchase the same park entry passes that everyone else has to buy. All visitors to our cottagers must pay the gate fees as well. These costs are all set by government; we just write the cheques -- year after year.

Myth: Everyone pays the same Lease Fees.

Fact: Our Lease fee payment -- one of the four annual fees we must pay -- is dependent on the size of our lot and where it is located within the park. There are four lease fee categories: Bayside, Lakeside (50'), Lakeside (75'), and Interior. As you would expect the most expensive lots are near the water. Only a half-dozen lots on Rondeau Bay are "waterfront"... none of the lots along Lake Erie actually get anywhere close to the water.

Myth: The Service Fees don't fully cover costs.

Fact: Our annual Service Fee -- billed on top of our Lease fee -- was calculated to recoup the costs of garbage disposal and other direct cottage-related issues. It was never supposed to be profit- making. It was reported to be fair and reasonable by the park superintendent when it was last reviewed. Our Service Fees are the second of four annual fee we pay to the province.

Myth: Rondeau cottagers don't pay property taxes.

Fact: Wrong! We do indeed pay annual Property Taxes to the Municipality of Chatham-Kent under the terms of the Municipal Tax Assistance Act. The only difference between us and normal "freehold" property taxes is that we pay our taxes to the province who then forwards them on to the municipality. Our cottages are assessed by MPAC just like everywhere else in Ontario, and of course valuations are based on the size and construction quality of each cottage. Our mill rate is the standard Harwich Township Residential rate. These Payments In-Lieu of Taxes are the third of our four annual payments to the province.

Myth: Cottage owners get free entry to the park.

Fact: We have to purchase park entry permits just like everyone else. All our guests do too. Cottage families must purchase one Summer / Annual Pass per vehicle; with extended family and guests this may easily amount to 10 passes per cottage. At current rates it costs most cottage families an additional $500 to $1,000+ every year just to visit our own cottages. This is the fourth and final fee we pay to the province every year.

Myth: Our leases have expired numerous times already but we've squatted on the land and refused to leave.

Fact: Rondeau's original Crown Leases were issued as 21-year leases renewable forever. The perpetually-renewable clause was removed in the 1950's. Our 1933 leases (yup, 1933) have been extended in 1954, 1975, 1996, 2017, 2019, and now 2023-24. The original leases all expired at staggered times but in 1996 the province changed them all to a common expiry date of December 31 to simplify their own record keeping. No existing cottage leases have ever expired, although some have been cancelled over the years for non-payment or late payment due to financial hardship of their owners. Dozens of other cottages have been purchased by the province and demolished without need simply to reduce the number of cottages in the park.

Myth: Cottage owners do not respect the terms of the lease.

Fact: The park staff monitors everything that happens in the park, whether by day-users, campers, or cottagers. Although new leaseholders may occasionally be educated about park regulations, we are not aware of charges being laid against cottagers in recent years. Violations of lease terms are almost always due to a lack of understanding of the regulations, often because the park rules have changed without warning. The RCA has always offered our assistance to park staff in communicating rule changes or general concerns out to our membership. We are all partners in the park and following the rules helps ensure Rondeau continues to thrive.

The Facts About Our Leases...