Last year, Ontario’s protected areas experienced record demand.
Ontario Parks received 11 million visits and Parks Canada reported more than 2 million visits.
That’s equivalent to 13 million visits to Ontario’s provincial and national parks in one year. That’s roughly equivalent to the population of Ontario!
As we begin another busy year, Ontario Parks and Parks Canada ask all our visitors to show their love for the parks by taking steps to protect our precious natural spaces.
Here are five ways you can do your part:
1. Lose the trash
One of the biggest challenges we face as a park system is trash.
We see a significant amount of trash being left at campsites and day use areas. Our staff is always here to help, but sometimes the trash is more than we can keep up with.
Garbage collection systems exist in parks to make getting rid of garbage as easy as possible. Be sure to properly bag your trash and dispose of it in a designated container. Even better: Look for ways to reduce the waste you bring into the park.
Always bag every piece of trash you bring in.
2. Practice good camping etiquette
Campers are some of the best stewards of park spaces, and practicing proper camping etiquette helps ensure we can continue to enjoy our protected areas for generations.
When cooking on site, be sure to store your food properly. Follow dishwashing etiquette and never pour water into your dish.
Water spigots are used to collect water and bring it back to your campsite. Don’t wash the dishes, brush your teeth, or clean yourself at the tap.
Be kind and courteous when using comfort stations. You can help avoid a plumbing disaster by never flushing anything that can’t be flushed down the toilet.
Lastly, make sure your campfire is always under control. Never bring firewood from outside the area you are visiting or collect it from the forest.
3. Plan ahead and arrive prepared
Even the best trip can be ruined if you get lost or injured.
Know your limits before embarking on your adventure and make sure your equipment is in good working condition.
You can plan ahead by researching the park you will visit before you leave. Visit OntarioParks.com for the latest information on available facilities and activities.
You can also follow your favorite park on social media to get up-to-date information on park alerts and capacity.
4. Respect the environment
As park lovers, we are all stewards of Ontario’s protected places. It is important to respect the park space and the wildlife that lives there.
When exploring the park, remember to always stay on the designated trails. Parks are home to many species of plants and animals, and it is important that we do not trample their habitat.
This also applies to feeding wildlife. Feeding wildlife is dangerous and unhealthy for them. Please give the animals their space and admire them from a distance.
When an area is protected, it is important that we do not remove anything from the environment or introduce anything new. This means not picking flowers or any other natural objects and always carrying whatever you bring with you.
5. Be kind
2021 will be very busy for Ontario parks. We must all do our part.
Remember to demonstrate a respectful attitude towards those around you at all times.
Our staff is working very hard so you can have a great outdoor experience. Be patient, kind and courteous. We are here to help!
Don’t forget to always follow local public health guidelines.
What will you do #ForTheLoveOfTheParks?
Every time you feel tempted to take a shortcut or pass up the responsible thing, imagine if 13 million people did the same?
When these behaviors are repeated among millions of people, they create a significant challenge for staff and damage our protected spaces.
And remember: it works both ways. Imagine if 13 million of us joined together.
This year, let’s commit to respecting and protecting the parks we love.
A special thank you to our friends at Parks Canada.