Canadians donate more than C$5 billion to various charities each year. Now, Ontario cottage owners may make unique real estate donations to cancer survivors and their families.

Cottage Dreams offers cottage-less cancer survivors the opportunity to spend a week at a donated cottage in Ontario's beautiful countryside.

Adults and children who are currently in remission or are recuperating from cancer and have been out of treatment for less than 6 months may be eligible to enjoying the healing peace and quiet of Ontario's cottage country.

Ontarians who are fortunate enough to have a vacation property and are willing to donate it to Cottage Dreams for one or more weeks a year can give the gift of peace of mind to those who have recently won the battle of their lives and wouldn't otherwise be able to get away.

Cottage Dreams is the brainchild of Seana O'Neill, a life-long cottager whose mother successfully fought breast cancer in 1988. Seana grew up in Toronto, but spent summers and holidays at her family's cottage on Lake of Bays. Recently Seana, her husband and two young sons bought a cottage near the Village of Haliburton. They know first hand that peace, tranquility and inspiration are just a few of the treasures found among the pines in Ontario's cottage country.

Highly stressed city dwellers have long known the restorative value of an escape to the cottage. Yet, today's fast paced lifestyles hamper many cottage owners from spending as much time at their vacation property as they'd like. Now, even if they are stuck in the city, these owners can take pleasure from knowing that their cottage is being used by cancer survivors spending a week relaxing with family, away from distressing treatments, hospitals and doctors.

Cottage Dreams will offer cottages year round. While summer cottages may be more rustic, participating winter and spring cottages will be winterized in order to provide the necessary requirements of comfort (i.e., water and heat). The first winterized cottages will be available this September and October for between 5 and 10 families. There will be no cost to participate, although a fully refundable security deposit may be required.

Cottage Dreams will swing into full-time operations in early 2004 after the results of the pilot program have been reviewed. More than 25 cottage weeks have already been donated.

Working closely with cancer support organizations, Cottage Dreams will select participants based on their current health status. A rigorous selection process will determine that the candidate meets the predefined requirements and that a cottage stay is practical. This process will include the support of the candidates attending physician/oncologist, as well as that of Dreams own volunteer member physician. Although participants will be recent cancer survivors, they will not be currently undergoing radiation or chemotherapy treatments nor will they be recuperating from recent surgery.

Cottage Dreams is designed to ensure that the cottage donors experience the joy of giving with as little worry as possible.Participants or "renters" will sign a waiver releasing the cottage owner and Cottage Dreams from liability. Owners are responsible for adequately insuring the "rented" property, but Dreams will help owners ensure their insurance questions are answered.

Although amenities, such as a television or VCR, waterfront dock, beach, fireplace or canoe are "icing on the cake," donated Cottage Dreams vacation properties must:

  • Be located a maximum of 30-45 minutes from a hospital
  • Include a working telephone for local calls
  • Be directly accessible by car (If the cottage is winterized, the road should be ploughed.)
  • Contain indoor plumbing

    You've joined us in a close look at the concept of shared ownership in the past (See PJ's May 21, 2001 article: Sharing a Cottage: Affordability or Insanity? ( Discussion Board Post Questions Real Estate Forum Answers Expert Advice )). Now, we're inviting you to consider shared pleasure in your cottage. If you have any questions about Cottage Dreams, or you'd like to donate your cottage or contribute as a Founding member, please call Cottage Dreams at (705) 448-9190 or email the nonprofit organization at .

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