Numbers don't support provincial parks cutbacks, critics say
Three northeastern Ontario parks have seen increases in visitors
People in northeastern Ontario are disputing the government's reasons for ending overnight camping at several provincial parks in the region.
Recently, the province announced its changing the status of eight parks in the northeast to non-operational — a decision that has prompted politicians and citizens to speak up.
Kapuskasing mayor and Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities president Al Spacek said people just aren’t buying the government’s reasoning.
"Certainly, we're skeptical and cynical of this position and we know that a lot of these parks are much busier than in fact is being suggested," he said.
Natural Resources Minister Michael Gravelle said one of the main reasons for cutting overnight camping is a decline in people visiting the parks.
"The parks that were chosen had low campground occupancy rates," Gravelle said.
"[There was] certainly low day-use visitation or significant decline."
However numbers requested from the MNR by CBC News show not all parks saw a decline in visitation.
Three of the provincial parks showed an increase — include Rene Brunelle, Greenwater and Ivanhoe.
The numbers show that Rene Brunelle had more than 15,000 visitors this past season, up from 10,000 two years ago.
Spacek and other members of FONOM will be meeting with Minister Gravelle next week to discuss the changes.
The government said another reason for its decision is the high cost of updating park infrastructure.