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Ontario gets its first new Provincial Park in 40 years

Ontario gets its first new Provincial Park in 40 years

The Bigwind Lake Provincial Park near Bracebridge will consist of nearly 5,000 acres.

By Andrew Joseph,; Image courtesy of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks

The Ontario government has announced that Bigwind Lake Provincial Park near Bracebridge will become the first new all-season, full-service provincial park created in over 40 years.

While not an ag story, we know this is still about land stewardship.

The park is almost 5,000 acres (1,967 hectares) in size, which is over 1.5 times larger than Arrowhead Provincial Park in neighbouring Huntsville.

Bigwind Lake Provincial Park’s ecological diversity features five named lakes, extensive upland forests, marshes, and meadows.

It will offer overnight and electrified campgrounds, backcountry camping, and a variety of four-season recreational activities, including cross-country skiing, canoeing, and hiking.

Once complete, the park is expected to add 250 campground campsites and up to 25 new cabins to the Ontario Parks system.

Bigwind Lake Provincial Park is currently classified as a non-operating provincial park, meaning it offers low-intensity, self-guided recreational opportunities, such as hiking and nature appreciation, but does not have staff, maintained facilities, or campsites.

The proposed new operating provincial park will be fully serviced and designed with the visitor experience in mind. Modern buildings and amenities such as a visitor centre, electric vehicle charging stations, and electrified campsites will deliver the features that today’s campers and park users expect. The park design will also consider environmentally sustainable elements, such as low-energy buildings, easy-to-access biking and walking routes, and wildlife-friendly planning and design, so the park remains a vital part of the natural landscape for generations to come.

Over the coming months, the government will engage Indigenous communities, local municipalities, stakeholders, and the public on the proposed new operating park. Individuals also have an opportunity to comment on the park’s design features until August 6, 2023. It is anticipated that construction on Bigwind Lake Provincial Park will begin in the fall of 2024.

Bigwind Lake Provincial Park will become Ontario’s 116th operating provincial park. The province of Ontario manages and protects a system of 340 provincial parks and 295 conservation reserves totalling 9.8 million hectares, or nine percent of the province.

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