London

What you can and can't do in London region parks this camping season

A quick rundown of what you can and can't do at regional, provincial and federal parks this camping season.

There are new rules on booze, cannabis and cigarettes in provincial, federal and regional parks

Assistant superintendent of operations Ben Dafoe holds one of the new designated smoking area signs you'll see at the Fanshawe Conservation Area this spring. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

When you book a campsite at either Fanshawe, Wildwood or Pittock Conservation Areas in the London Region, you'll now have the same option you did in a restaurant back in the 1990s: smoking or non-smoking. 

"You'll see the signage, what's permitted and where it's permitted," said Fanshawe Conservation Area assistant superintendent Ben Dafoe. 

The new signs will go up when Conservation areas in London, Woodstock and St. Mary's open on May 1st and will come with a special bin for butt disposal so that the park doesn't become awash in cigarette butts. 

While tobacco will be strictly controlled, park officials will be little more lenient when it comes to cannabis, which Dafoe said will be treated in a similar manner to alcohol. 

"We do allow cannabis," he said. "With cannabis, it will be permitted in those designated smoking areas as well as registered seasonal campsites and registered overnight sites in non-smoking areas."

Conservation areas

Fanshawe Conservation Area, seen here, is set to open on May 1. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

Drinking - permitted on camp sites, people are not permitted to carry open alcohol through the park

Cannabis - permitted inside designated smoking areas only

Tobacco - permitted inside designated smoking areas only, along with vaping and hookahs

How far ahead you have to book: Fanshawe, Pittock and Wildwood conservation areas take booking as early as six months ahead of the reservation, but unless you're booking on a long weekend in the summer, most bookings can be made only a few days ahead, or the day of, by simply walking into the park. 

Full rules and regulations for Fanshawe, Pittock and Wildwood conservation areas are available here

Provincial parks

Pinery Provincial Park is the fourth most popular park in terms of day visits in Ontario. (Ontario Parks )

Drinking - The Ontario Parks website states, "alcohol is permitted in Ontario Parks for most of the season with the exception of a two-week period around the Victoria Day weekend. For 2019, the alcohol ban is in place from May 10 to May 20 inclusive." The ban includes Pinery, MacGregor Point, Port Burwell and Long Point. 

Cannabis - permitted on campsites and some hiking trails, as long as they're not within the campgrounds

Smoking - smoking is prohibited in all facilities

How far ahead you have to book - Ontario Parks takes bookings up to five months in advance and with 10 million visitors a year, it's best to book ahead. 

Full rules and regulations for Ontario Parks available here.

Federal parks

The grotto, seen here from above at Bruce Peninsula National Park, is known for its cool, clear waters. (Parks Canada)

Drinking - The Parks Canada website states the following, "consuming alcohol is only allowed at registered campsites, private residences or on licensed premises. Alcohol is not allowed at beaches, day use areas, cook shelters, or on trails. During certain periods of the year, specific campgrounds may have temporary alcohol bans in effect. These will be identified through notices posted online and at the campgrounds."

Cannabis - In Ontario, use in public day-use areas and campsites is allowed, as well as in the back country and on trails. Consumption of cannabis is not permitted on playgrounds, roads or in kitchens, shelters and washrooms. 

Smoking - Ontario smoking and vaping regulations apply at all Parks Canada facilities in the province. Find them here

How far ahead you have to book - Reservations began on January 15, 2019 at 8:00 a.m. They can also be made online or calling 1-877-RESERVE (877-737-3783). To snag a good spot in a national park, you often have to book as soon as reservations open. 

For full rules and regulations at Parks Canada facilities, click here

About the Author

Colin Butler

Video Journalist

Colin Butler is a veteran CBC reporter who's worked in Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton and London, Ont. Email: colin.butler@cbc.ca