View topic - Ontario Parks bans camping at 10 provincial parks

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PostPosted: September 28th, 2012, 11:36 am 
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This is billed as a cost saving measure, along with a raft of changes announced today by the MNR. Among the 10 is Tidewater, across the river from Moosonee. I think everyone who paddles a James Bay river ending in Moosonee camps there, especially the youth camps.

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PostPosted: September 28th, 2012, 12:01 pm 
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I see Obatanga is on there, I wonder if they will just close the campgrounds and leave the backcountry sites open with a self serve permit system.

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PostPosted: September 28th, 2012, 12:17 pm 
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It's part of the discussion in this thread:

http://myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=40526

I'll admit to confusion. :-? The newspaper article refers to closing off camping, whereas the MNR announcement talks about "not maintaining facilities".

That other thread is a general thread about Ontario Parks, and this one is specific to the announcement. So they are two different topics.

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PostPosted: October 2nd, 2012, 9:24 am 
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Stajanleafs wrote:
I see Obatanga is on there, I wonder if they will just close the campgrounds and leave the backcountry sites open with a self serve permit system.


I live near several "non-operating" parks. It is just like a piece of Crown Land but it is still a regulated park area and protected from activities like claim staking, firewood cutting, etc.

Therefore, you can still go to the backcountry campsites (self-maintained) and will not need a Provincial Park camping permit. Non-residents may need a Crown Land camping permit to camp in a non-operating park area (unless they are using the services of an outfitter) because it is like an area of Crown Land.


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PostPosted: October 3rd, 2012, 11:55 am 
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I just phoned MNR and asked if you can still camp at these parks. The answer is no. These are not becoming non-operating parks. They are still operating parks, they still offer day use services.

I didn't ask about backcountry sites at Obatanga or others specifically. My concern is with Tidewater and all the paddlers who camp there on their last night before boarding the train to Cochrane. They will have to camp elsewhere. The MNR spokesperson suggested that nearby Crown land would be suitable. I'm not aware of nearby campsites.

I wrote the following letter to the address MNR has set up to deal with this issue, and copied it to the Minister and the Opposition critics:


Hello Cathy,

It was nice to speak with you just now about the changes to camping at the 10 provincial parks. My concern is specifically with Tidewater Provincial Park near Moosonee. I'm sure you know that the rivers flowing into James Bay are popular with recreational canoeists, the Missinaibi River for example. Typically, these canoeists will end their trip in Moosonee and take the train back to Cochrane. The night before, they usually camp at Tidewater Provincial Park. I am concerned that these people will no longer have a place to camp within a reasonable distance of Moosonee. In our phone call, you mentioned that people could camp on nearby Crown land. I do not know the area around Moosonee well, but I am unaware of other suitable spots near Tidewater. This change will place an unreasonable burden on canoeists ending their canoe trip in Moosonee and will likely lead to people cancelling their trips or going elsewhere.

I understand the financial pressures faced by the province. I suggest that, if Tidewater cannot continue to operate as is has in the past, then at the very least camping be permitted there even in the absence of services.

Sincerely,

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PostPosted: October 3rd, 2012, 1:58 pm 
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Here is the response I received from MNR:

"I have spoken with the park superintendent that oversees the operations of the parks in the Cochrane Cluster. She called the MNR Moosonee office staff to see if there are other places to camp. They said that there are currently no other places to camp. If there are canoeists on the river, they would have to camp up or down stream on the river system they are on and just camp on the shore somewhere on crown land. The other option is to find accommodation in Moosonee at a lodge or guesthouse/Bed and Breakfast.
"I hope this information answers your questions."

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PostPosted: October 3rd, 2012, 3:06 pm 
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It's a cop-out: Tidewater has been an orphan for a while.
Shame on the MNR: they have no problem selling the Missinaibi route (it's probably Ontario's wilderness river with the highest tourism potential) and collecting fees as one paddles down the river. Then at the bottom, they tell you to find a camping spot in the semi-urban setting.

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PostPosted: October 3rd, 2012, 3:10 pm 
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The Town of Moosonee has leased this Park from OP and has been running it for the past several years through their Parks and Recreation department.
Has this changed recently?

Why can this arrangement not continue?
Moosonee suffered a huge loss in tourism following 9/11. It would seem appropriate for the Town to at least hold onto Tidewater and make a bit of money from it.
I smell a rat here and I would like to see the financials for the operation of this Park before we let the politicians and OP bureaucrats get their way here.
Ed.


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PostPosted: October 3rd, 2012, 10:20 pm 
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A "Friends of Ivanhoe Lake" has been formed to explore alternatives to closing Ivanhoe Lake P.P. I was talking to a friend tonight how uses The Shoals P.P. and is not happy with the decision to close the park. The CBC Sudbury radio station has also been playing the messages received from frustrated campers all week.

I see 2 policy trends happening as an alternative to simply closing these parks (I don't have all the exact fees at my fingertips, so I may have some errors in my numbers).

Ivanhoe Lake park is popular for people with trailers. Residents in cities/towns like Timmins have a limited number of cottaging lakes in their area. Trailer camping is the preferred alternative option. Ontario Parks policy is not to have more than 25% of the campsites in a park set aside for seasonal campers. This means that there are 32 seasonal campsites available but there is at least 60 campers wanting to camp at the park (they have a lottery to determine who gets the sites). Ontario Parks could change their policy and have more sites occupied for the whole season producing more revenue.

The second policy change would be the creation of a 2 service levels for park campgrounds: a basic/rustic level and a premium level of service. The premium level of service would be similar to what is now available in most campgrounds: comfort stations with flush toilets and showers; pressurized water systems; electrical outlets at some campsites; etc. (Ontario Parks currently has 3 levels of camping fees/services ranging from Premium to Middle to Low - what we might need is a new more basic level).

The new basic/rustic level of service may just have pit/vault/composting toilets; no showers; hand pumps instead of pressurized water systems; self-serve payment for camp sites; no garbage pickup or reduced frequency of garbage pickup; etc. It would be somewhere between basic free camping on Crown Land and current Ontario Parks.

Ivanhoe Lake may need updating of the water system/comfort stations/etc. Rather than replace the existing facilities with premium level of services, replace them with basic services and save the high costs of premium level of infrastructure typical in most parks now. Ivanhoe also has a shoreline erosion problem that may cost well into six figures to repair - not sure what the alternative is to that problem.

Shoals Park just needs a basic/rustic level of service. It does not have a comfort station and only has vault toilets. Replace the pressurized water system with a couple of hand pumps (with signs saying that water not treated so boil/filter the water). Reduced services mean reduced costs and this might produce a better revenue/cost figure. Camping fee is now at least $30.25 (with tax)-the new basic level fee could be somewhere between $12 and $25. Michigan has a wide range of camping options:http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10365_58648-32926--,00.html#fullhookup

Another option could be privatizing the operating of the camping area. In the '70's, Ontario Parks tried privatizing a couple of parks. Sturgeon Bay Provincial Park, just north of Pointe au Baril, was privatized. I don't know how that worked out.

Many MNR District Offices had to cut their Crown Land Recreation programs in the 1980's due to budget cuts. This program had summer staff maintaining canoe routes outside of parks and had staff maintaining Crown Land access points (often used by campers).

But to bring us back to reality, this is just the first year of a 3 year cost cutting exercise.


Last edited by JCooper on October 5th, 2012, 4:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: October 4th, 2012, 7:44 am 
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Yeah, Michigan is $16 -33 depending on the park, plus a $10 Recreation Passport annual fee on your auto license plate for state residents (or $8 daily fee for your car for non-residents).

PK


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PostPosted: October 5th, 2012, 9:40 pm 
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Shame to see Tidewater go. As a camp counselor at a camp in Algonquin Park (Camp Pathfinder), I finished the Attawapiskat and the Missinaibi rivers in Tidewater. Some really special memories there and I hate to see it go.


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PostPosted: January 11th, 2013, 1:04 pm 
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It's obvious "Cathy" from the MNR has never been to Moosenee or to Tidewater.
THere is NOWHERE to camp along those shores. I have been down the Missinaibi and the Abitibi and ended at Tidewater. Both times we searched in earnest for camping along the shores and islands leading up to Tidewater. There's nothing suitable we've seen. Tidewater is it or motel or bb in town. Too bad really.


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PostPosted: January 11th, 2013, 4:38 pm 
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People should camp there anyway. the land owner is the people not the government.


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PostPosted: January 18th, 2013, 2:31 pm 
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http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/s ... -open.html

Quote:
3 provincial parks to stay open in the north

Posted: Jan 16, 2013 3:28 PM ET

Three municipalities in the northeast have partnered with the province to keep three provincial parks open for at least two years — but if the parks lose money, the municipalities will be picking up the tab.

The province has agreed it will keep three parks open under a pilot project. The government had announced it would change the status of eight parks in the northeast to non-operational — a decision that prompted politicians and citizens to speak up.

Three of the parks — Fushimi, near Hearst, and Ivanhoe, near Foleyet as well as Rene Brunelle, near Moonbeam — will remain open under the new agreement.

The partnering municipalities include Hearst, Moonbeam and Timmins. The province said it aims to increase revenue and visitation rates.



http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/s ... osses.html

Quote:
Municipalities on the hook for provincial park financial losses

New pilot project with the Ontario government will keep Fushimi, Rene Brunelle and Ivanhoe provincial parks open

Posted: Jan 18, 2013 12:14 PM ET

The Ontario government is launching a pilot project to keep three provincial parks open in northeastern Ontario — but if it fails, municipalities will have to pick up the tab.

The province recently announced it will partner with municipalities to keep Fushimi, Rene Brunelle and Ivanhoe parks open, with the goal of increasing revenue and visitation rates.

Under the new agreement, the city of Timmins will be responsible if Ivanhoe Park loses money.

For Mayor Tom Laughren, the risk is worth taking to keep the parks open.

"At the end of the day, we also have to be very conscious of it from a financial perspective,” he said.

The city hasn't put any money aside in case the park loses money, however.

"We've never got close to that discussion as it relates to finances,” Laughren said.

“[It] will really take place after that seasonal draw is finalized."

Working group in place

Minister of Natural Resources Michael Gravelle said a working group is in place to minimize the possibility of municipalities being saddled with the debt if the venture fails.

"Our goal will be to come as close as we can to see that there are no financial losses,” he said.

“And that's why the working group is going to be so important."

While it’s clear who is left to carry the burden of debt, it is less clear where the money will go if the parks happen to make money.

Starting today, people can start signing up for seasonal campsites at the three parks.

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PostPosted: January 18th, 2013, 2:47 pm 
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Interesting experiment: let's see where that leads us. I'd say, it will take at least 4 years to shake itself out, and another 5 years before the impacts of that become apparent.

So if the consequence of this experiment is an attempt to move Ontario's conservation responsibilities to the municipalities, we need about ten years before we decide it's a good idea to adopt it province-wide.

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