Overnight camping and washrooms will be pulled from 10 of Ontario’s least visited provincial parks, part of a cost-cutting strategy that includes chopping 28 full-time jobs and another 102 seasonal positions.
“People will still have access to them for hiking and fishing and picnicking but there will no longer be the overnight camping that will be available and washroom facilities,” Natural Resources Minister Michael Gravelle said in an interview.
The park changes will come into effect next season. Gravelle said the 10 parks that get selected for the downgrade will still be designated protected areas and there will be no change to the rules on industrial activities.
The minister said the changes were part of a plan to put the ministry of natural resources on a “sustainable footing” and includes reducing the need to get ministry approvals and automating as many licence and registration processes as possible and replacing the overnight Ontario Ranger Program with a day-based, youth employment program.
Anna Baggio, with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, said she’s happy to see the parks are still being protected from industrial activity, even if some services there are being cut.
“We have to understand that in these type of austerity times, sometimes these changes need to happen,” Baggio said. “They’ve been thoughtful about it, which I appreciate.”