Sat. Feb 24th, 2024
Spring flooding in Ontario parks

**NOTE: This post was last updated on June 18, 2019 and will not be updated again in 2019. Please check our flood alerts page for more flood updates.

Due to high water levels from this spring, many provincial parks are experiencing flooding, which may delay their opening or close their trails and campgrounds. We maintain an updated list of parks affected by flooding in this post.

Our staff is working hard to help our parks dry out and reopen to visitors. Take a look at what we’re facing this spring:

Closures due to high water levels (updated June 18, 2019):

Sandbanks Provincial Park

Sandbanks is open, however recent heavy spring rains and high Lake Ontario water levels have caused localized flooding and some closures.

Outlet Beach is less than half the size of normal, but it is open. Lakeshore and Dunes beaches are largely underwater and closed. All dog beach areas are underwater and closed.

flooded beach

Dunes and Cedar Sands Trail are closed indefinitely due to flooding.

The park’s coastal areas are significantly reduced due to high water levels, and visitors should use caution when walking along the beach/coastline during high waves as large debris washes ashore.

eroded road

Several campsites at Cedars and Outlet Campgrounds are also closed.

Affected reservations will be contacted by Ontario Parks Reservations and will be offered to change their reservation without penalty where sites are available or cancel and receive a full refund.

Park staff continue to closely monitor conditions to reopen the remaining areas of the park as soon as it is safe to do so.

Long Point Provincial Park

Long Point Provincial Park is open, with day use and camping available at Cottonwood Campground.

flooded road

Firefly, Monarch and Turtle Dunes campgrounds will remain closed due to flooding concerns, and are anticipated to reopen on July 15, 2019.

Affected reservations will be contacted by Ontario Parks Reservations and will be offered to change their reservation without penalty where sites are available or cancel and receive a full refund.

Park staff continue to closely monitor conditions to reopen the remaining areas of the park as soon as it is safe to do so.

Peninsula Provincial Park

Presqu’ile is open, but is experiencing record high water levels. Please note that much of the beach is underwater.

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Many campgrounds at Trail’s End, Lakeside and Elmvale Campgrounds are closed due to flooding.

Flooded campsite in Presqu'ile

Affected reservations will be contacted by Ontario Parks Reservations and will be offered to change their reservation without penalty where sites are available or cancel and receive a full refund.

eroded coast, flooded road

Visitors should use caution near the lake due to unstable shorelines, particularly along the cliffs in the picnic areas.

French River Provincial Park

The French River is open.

rapisds

Due to unusually high water levels and flood warnings, the following sections of the French River have been deemed unsafe for navigation and are closed to all park users:

  • the main channel of the French River, directly upstream and downstream of the Chaudière Dam, including camps 300-303
  • upstream of Commanda Island to downstream of Little Parisien Rapids, including campsites 325-327 and 400-413
  • the main channel of the French River from the French River Supply Station to the waters of Ox Bay, including camps 521-525
  • the main channel of the French River, west of The Elbow to downstream of the Dalles Rapids, including campgrounds 624-627 and 710-712
  • The French River Western Outlet downstream of Campground 709 to upstream of Campground 805, including Campgrounds 729-731 and 800-805
  • The Wanapitei River, west of Hartley Bay to Sturgeon Chutes, including campsites 603-605

Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park

The former Liskeard Lumber Road in Gamble Township at the Elissa Creek crossing is temporarily closed to vehicle traffic.

flooded road, broken pavement

This washout prevents vehicles from safely accessing the Gamble Lake and Chance Lake access areas on the North Lady Evelyn River. This section of the road will remain closed until further notice.

Alternative access to the North Lady Evelyn River is available at the Weedend Lake Harbor immediately west of the Trethewey Trail access area.

Why were so many parks flooded this year?

Coasts are dynamic spaces and erosion is a natural and continuous process. Over the years, water levels go through cyclical highs and lows (and boy, was this year ever a “high”!).

One of the reasons we saw such high water levels this year is because we had late snow melt and a lot of spring rain. The runoff caused the water level of lakes and rivers to rise rapidly.

Along the coasts, waves hit already saturated ground. This causes the soil to become destabilized, unable to contain the volume of water.

Eroded coastline in Presqu'ileSee how the soggy soil is removed from the bedrock?

It is important to remember that our coastlines have been eroding for thousands of years. Where the lake steals in one place, it gives in another. This is how parks like Presqu’ile, Long Point, Rondeau and Slate Islands were created in the first place. It’s all part of the erosion process.

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The park I want to visit *seems* mostly dry. Why can’t I visit?

Because two of our biggest concerns are:

  • Keeping our visitors safe
  • Protect Ontario’s Ecosystems
  • All that water had to go somewhere, and that “somewhere” was usually the ground. Just because you can’t see the floods above the ground does not mean that there are no floods yet below the land.

    Destabilized soil can cause landslides (imagine your new RV falling into the lake!). We do not want people or equipment to be in danger due to high water levels.

    Give the floor its space!

    We also want to give our parks time to recover. They just absorbed a HUGE amount of water.

    To accommodate plant roots and underground species, soil needs to have small interstitial spaces between its grains.

    Human activities, such as walking and driving, compact soil. Once the soil is compacted, regrowth is much more difficult.

    The soil needs time to dry to be able to support our weight again.

    Are these floods a disaster for the plants and wildlife that live in the parks?

    Generally not. Remember: Occasional high water levels and coastal erosion are part of a natural process.

    For humans, floods are a natural phenomenon. disaster.

    In the natural world, floods are a natural phenomenon. riot. Yes, some species will be negatively affected, but this type of disturbance helps others, such as browns, waterfowl, and frogs, thrive.

    sandbar panThe pannes (G20 ecosystems) in Presqu’ile and Sandbanks love the extra water

    Those debris-covered beaches look messy from a human perspective, but all the newly deposited trees and shrubs will now be buried in the sand, providing additional nutrients. Detritus also provides cover and habitat for beach species such as American toads.

    That said, flooding can be hard on species like our piping plovers. This at-risk species needs dry beaches to nest, and during flood years, those beaches can become underwater during the nesting season.

    MacGregor Point – Piping Plovers

    Because this species is so threatened, the loss of even one bird can take its toll on the world’s population. That is why our continued protection work is so important.

    What are the park staff doing? I can help?

    Staff still working in affected parks protect infrastructure such as park offices and comfort stations, monitor trees (flooded terrain can destabilize tree roots), ensure water and electrical systems are not compromised. affected and keeps visitors away from extremely fragile natural spaces.

    Bonnechere cane on hipwaders

    Some parks may have volunteer events, but The best thing you can do for our parks is give them time to recover.

    What can we learn from this year’s floods?

    If there is one thing that reinforces us, it is the importance of maintaining healthy and sustainable ecosystems. When an ecosystem has ecological integrity, there is a certain elasticity that allows species (including humans) to recover easily.

    We need to continue working together to protect provincial parks year-round.