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Cottaging and the cost of travel Rowe, Greg Alan

Abstract

Many North American urban dwellers find lakeshore cottaging to be an attractive activity. On a typical summer weekend in most North American cities large numbers of cottagers make automobile trips ranging in length from only a few miles to several hundred miles in order to reach their cottages. Many cottagers from the Greater Vancouver area travel greater distances to reach their cottages than do cottagers from other large cities. A large portion of these distant cottage areas were developed in the nineteen sixties and early seventies when personal transportation was very inexpensive. The mid nineteen seventies have been the scene of substantial increases in energy costs with subsequent rises in the cost of transportation. When the possibility of further energy price increases is considered it appears that there is a distinct possibility of these distant cottages experiencing a drastic decline in use. This would have a number of implications for planners in British Columbia with one of the most important being the increase in demand for cottaging (or similar activities) close to Vancouver. In order to determine the magnitude of the response of cottagers to transportation cost increases questionnaires were mailed to four different groups of cottagers who resided in Greater Vancouver. Three of these groups consisted of cottagers who owned cottages on the British Columbia mainland at varying distances from Vancouver (the cottages of the first group were located about seventy miles from Vancouver while the third group's cottages were located about 330 miles from Vancouver). The fourth group consisted of Vancouver cottagers who owned cottages on Vancouver Island. The data collected measured responses to recent gasoline price increases, responses to ferry fare increases, and cottagers' anticipated responses to future gasoline price increases. It was found that cottagers had responded to both the ferry fare increases and gasoline price increases with reductions in the use of their cottage. The data was also used to estimate the effect of future gasoline price increases on cottage use. The study reveals that the costs of reaching distant cottages is presently at a level such that further increases could severely curtail the use of these cottages. These findings can be considered in conjunction with estimated future trends for energy prices to determine the magnitude of the effect of transportation costs on cottaging at a given time. This result could then be used to plan for alternative opportunities closer to Vancouver.

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