We are absolutely delighted to announce that we are taking steps to create the first new full-service operating park in 40 years…
…Bigwind Lake Provincial Park!
People need parks
If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that Ontarians LOVE our parks.
In 2020, the onset of the pandemic underscored how valuable our parks are and how critical they are to our physical and mental well-being.
The following year, our parks received 12.4 million visits, a 29% increase over 2012!
As a result of this increase in demand, more and more parks (especially in southern Ontario) began to reach capacity during the peak season.
With Ontario’s population expected to continue to grow (again, especially in southern Ontario), we anticipate that in the coming decades there will be more visitors than ever wanting to come through our doors.
Turning Bigwind Lake into a full-service park, the first in 40 years, will help us be ready to welcome you!
Where did Bigwind Lake come from?
Bigwind Lake is no stranger to Ontario parks. In fact, this non-operational provincial park used to be a youth ranger camp in the 1960s.
Our task in the coming years will be to convert it from a non-operational park to an operational park.
Non-operating provincial parks, like Bigwind Lake, offer limited recreational experiences, fewer facilities and generally do not have dedicated staff or fees.
Why choose Bigwind Lake?
A lot of thought went into the location. After all, it’s been four decades since we welcomed the family to a new operating park!
Located about an hour south of Arrowhead Provincial Park (and about 1.5 times larger than the fan favorite), Bigwind Lake has all the charms of the area.
It features beautiful lakes, grasslands, marshes, and upland forests of sugar maple, eastern hemlock, and yellow birch.
Basically, it’s a stunning Muskoka paradise.
It is also within reach of our southern visitors, located just 2.5 hours from downtown Toronto.
What type of facilities will Bigwind Lake have?
We want your help designing our next full-service provincial park!
Our goal is to create a truly modern, innovative and sustainable space, while maintaining the characteristics that have made our parks loved over generations. How would you like this space?
These are some of the things we are imagining:
- a park design that incorporates elements such as low-energy buildings and services, such as electric vehicle charging stations and green technologies
- a central visitor services area, which will act as a hub for all park activities
- a park store with rentals
- space for campers in rural areas and camps, as well as covered accommodation
- Areas for hiking, paddling and biking.
We anticipate that Bigwind Lake will be a four-season park, so we will also plan for the snow season.
Sounds great! When can I book my trip?
Not yet. Great things take time and we take a lot of love and care to put first into Bigwind Lake.
Our first step is hearing from you.
We want to hear from all Ontarians, including park visitors, about what they want to see at Bigwind Lake.
This month, we also began the consultation process with indigenous communities and stakeholders.
While we collect feedback, we also have a lot of research to complete, from environmental studies to infrastructure assessments.
We’ll consider things like where to run electricity and water, and where to set up trails and campsites.
And, of course, we need to understand the park’s ecosystems and species, so that our actions can be carried out in the most sustainable way possible.
The park is located in the southernmost area of the moose population. It is also home to a wide variety of other wildlife, including a large number of birds and more than 200 species of vascular plants.
All of that work will then be summarized into a park management plan, which will chart the future of Bigwind Lake. We will begin working with all the wonderful people (architects, scientists, planners, marketers) who will help design and build the park’s systems and infrastructure.
We know you are excited like we are!
This is just the beginning of a multi-year journey, but don’t let that dampen your excitement or enthusiasm!
The great news: we are starting to work on a new operational park into which we will put everything we have learned and everything we hope our parks can become.
We look forward to sharing every step with you for years to come and welcoming you to Bigwind Lake when opening day arrives!
Join us as we begin this journey to create the first new, fully serviced provincial park in Ontario in 40 years. It’s going to be an adventure!