Northern MP urges Canadians to support local fishing lodges
SUDBURY -- It's down a long, dusty road, but promises to be a hidden gem once travellers arrive. On a May long weekend, it would typically be bustling with activity but this year, Agnew Lake Lodge sits empty.
The resort, like all Ontario cottage resorts, is getting a late start to its summer because of COVID-19.
"It's great, I can't imagine it. I'm still in shock to be honest, I can't believe I'm here," said new owner Nathan Gould. "The Spanish River is very popular, which feeds the lake here, and all the businesses count on it -- the lodges, the hotels, it's a lot of business for up here and they really depend on it."
Gould and his family have only been in northern Ontario for three weeks. While they were disappointed they had to turn people away this long weekend, they told CTV News they certainly understand.
"People are getting upset because their holidays are booked and we have to say no because it's a small town and if you have (an outbreak), they can't handle it," he said.
They've been using the extra time to clear away some of the winter brush and to cross off some of those extra chores.
The Gould family is hoping for a good summer and they, too, are chomping at the bit to get their doors open.
It's resorts like these that Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes is hoping people will support over the season.
With international travel likely off the books this season, Hughes urged Canadians to support businesses like these recently in the House of Commons.
"Last summer, Canadians headed outdoors with enthusiasm. Proof can be seen in increased sales for domestic fishing licenses,” she said. “This was in addition to growth in angling through outreach from entities like the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters or Ontario Women Anglers, who increase and celebrate diversity in sport fishing.”
Later in an interview with CTV, Hughes said there's a critical link between those anglers and the economy. Her riding of Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing is heavily reliant on tourism.
"This is a great opportunity for people to get a sense of what it's like to go to a cottage and enjoy life and let the cottage owners do the cleaning and do all of that for them," Hughes said.
In the meantime, the phone continues to ring at Agnew Lake Lodge, cottages are booking up and Nathan Gould and his family have studied their COVID-19 protocols. They are hoping for another banner year.
All they need now is for Premier Dough Ford to go ahead and give cottage owners the green light.
"The family, the fire, all the dinners, the fishing, just being around your family finally right ... would be nice," Gould said.