[Toronto Star Feature] Can cottagers keep Ontario’s lake regions afloat?

Written by Tess Kalinowski for the Toronto Star

It wasn’t enough for Chris Van Lierop and Tim Wisener to move their home design business from Toronto to cottage country. They wanted to contribute to the vitality of Fenelon Falls with a shop that would attract passersby.

So the couple opened the Colborne Gallery, specializing in local art, in a storefront adjoining their design studio.

Ontario cottage values are rising, says Royal LePage. There's pent-up demand and not much inventory ass Gen Xers look for places to relax and baby boomers head to resort areas for retirement living. (ROYAL LEPAGE)

Ontario cottage values are rising, says Royal LePage. There's pent-up demand and not much inventory ass Gen Xers look for places to relax and baby boomers head to resort areas for retirement living. (ROYAL LEPAGE)

Sure enough, about 750 people walked through the door at last week’s official opening.

“We decided Fenelon Falls is where we wanted to be because it needed some help. It needed some more businesses on the main street and a little bit more vibrancy,” said Van Lierop.

When they moved full-time last September to their nearby Sturgeon Point cottage where they have summered for years, the pair wanted to be part of what they saw as an emerging rejuvenation with new, cool shops and a plan to put in bike sharing this summer. Wisener has joined the local Chamber of Commerce and Van Lierop the downtown revitalization committee.

Theirs is the kind of economic development and community building story that Ontario’s rural municipalities are eyeballing as they consider how to expand the role of seasonal residents into the business life of their communities beyond the tourist dollars they drop at the local grocery store and gas station.

“Coming up here we decided to actively participate in the community,” said Van Lierop.

You can read the full article on the Toronto Star website.