Flooding closes provincial parks and local campgrounds
Officials say the parks will remain closed until at least May 21
Flooding has forced the closure of Long Point Provincial Park, Selkirk Provincial Park and the campground at Rondeau Provincial Park on Lake Erie.
The Kettle Creek Conservation Authority (KCCA) has also cancelled reservations at the Dalewood and Lake Whittaker Conservation Areas.
Officials said the parks are being closed to ensure public safety and aren't expected to open until at least May 21.
"Public safety and protecting park infrastructure is our main priority and will guide our decision on when to reopen the park or park facilities. Park staff are monitoring conditions and forecasts daily," said Ontario Parks Superintendent Jeff Pickersgill in a statement. "We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."
Ontario Parks is contacting hundreds of campsite reservation holders and offering them a full refund or the option to change their reservation with no penalty. Access to the day use area and cottages at Rondeau is still accessible.
Roads and sites under water
Photos on the Long Point Facebook page show washed out roads and camp sites covered in water.
A post from park staff says campers affected by the closure will be contacted by the Ontario Parks reservations service about booking new dates at another park "without penalty where sites are available" or a full refund.
A camper who experienced similar conditions last August, Agata Kozlowski of Barrie, said her young family wasn't offered the option to re-book or be reimbursed.
Kozlowski said she has since learned that the park has experienced flooding several times in recent years and has asked park officials to change the description on their website to indicate that some of its camp sites are prone to flooding.
"The park in other areas is beautiful. It has sandy dunes, the beaches are amazing. It's just those sites. I don't think they should [have] been operating. I was just very disappointed."
Kozlowski said the park has an obligation to let campers know what to expect.
"I would not have chosen to drive from Barrie, which is over a three-hour drive to Long Point, with two small kids, to sit in a swamp. I wouldn't make that trip."
London area campgrounds
The KCCA also says campers will be reimbursed for their deposits.
"We realize this is a major disappointment for campers eager to kick-off the camping season but the campgrounds need time to dry out," said KCCA General Manager Elizabeth VanHooren in a statement.
There are concerns that the mix of wet ground and trailer activity would lead to damage that would take the summer to repair.
"We need time to allow our campgrounds to absorb this spring's rain so that we can offer a great camping experience to our clients for the remainder of the summer," said VanHooren.