Crown land camping banned

by Jason Bain | April 11, 2020
campfire in a forest beside a creek
A campfire on Crown land. (Photo by Jason Bain)

The province prohibited recreational camping on Crown land as it further extended emergency orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

No one can place tents or other camping structures for the duration of the order, which began on Thursday, April 9 and remains in place until at least April 23, the province announced on Saturday, April 11.

“The government will continue to monitor the situation and re-evaluate if further actions are required,” officials stated.

OFAH responds

In the wake of the ban, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) pointed out that Crown land camping is an important part of fishing and hunting traditions in the province.

“While Crown land is closed for camping, it appears that land use permits are not affected, but we’re trying to get confirmation,” the OFAH stated. “If this order lasts into the spring and summer it will have a major impact in central and northern Ontario.

We will work to ensure that the government reviews this decision to ensure Crown land camping can resume as soon as it is safe to.”

Walking through still allowed

Walking through or using public lands for other permitted purposes is still allowed.

Other emergency measures enacted under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act include the closure of outdoor amenities in parks, non-essential workplaces, public places, and restrictions on social gatherings.

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  1. Andy Welch wrote: The Emergemcy Order dated April 9 also prohibits camping in boats equipped for overnight accomodation on Crown land including land covered by water. Does this mean I can't cruise Georgian Bay in my sailboat?
  2. Terry walsh wrote: This is government over/reach. Whoever suggested that this ban is needed for health is clearly reaching. Confining city dwellers to condos and other high density housing has a much higher risk than travel to campsites. I hope these bureaucrats are held accountable after this is over.
  3. david bouchard wrote: this is getting crazy, people are going to go nuts !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  4. Jae Powers wrote: What the government is doing is giving a Double standard fishing is a essential it's a source of food most of the fishermen give social distancing already about 90 to 95 percent with people walking those trails the majority of them don't fishing for some people take away depression and ansiety
  5. Gary Parker wrote: Restricting camping on crown land will have no affect on covid19.If you want to get rid of it people should go out for walks or sit on their decks to get fresh air.Being cooped up just fosters germs and there is no escape from them that's people who never go out get colds.When I worked in the plant and worked on the farm I hardly ever got a cold or was sick.Bottom line people get out and get some fresh air
  6. Allain servant wrote: please tell me how camping is affected by covid. My chances of contacting this virus going to do my groceries is way more than going camping. This is getting ridiculous, camping is a way out of this lock down and clear our heads. It good for the moral and mental health
  7. Dan wrote: No! You must sit in the city potentially exposing yourself to the pathogen. Since the rich can't travel you shall not enjoy nature, or have any fun during this period.
  9. Jocelyn wrote: I am very disheartened by this news for many many years I have used crown land very respectfully and following all rules like fire bans etc. This has been something I have done since I was a child. This is where I can relax and forget all about stress now that is even taken away from us. I am a responsible person and would not be putting anyone at risk including myself and/ or anyone else I would still follow all the restrictions concerning covid.
  10. Paul Prokopchuk wrote: 1) If I own the land that has a cabin on it and is 3/4 surrounded by crown land with water access only, can I go camping on my land? 2) if there was no cabin on my land, would I be able to pitch a tent on it? How are people allowed to go to their cottages, but I can’t go camping in the bush, what’s the difference?
    • Jason Bain wrote: Private property is not affected by current emergency orders. Cottagers are currently being discouraged from going to their seasonal residences.
  11. Rene Seguin wrote: The best kind of social isolation is being in the woods. This is turning into a nanny state. I understand banning camp fires but camping? This is to much. Should be camp at your own risk. The government should wave responsibility to save people in the woods.
  12. D wrote: How can the Provincial government set rules for land under Federal jurisdiction?
    • Jason Bain wrote: Crown land is the term used to describe land owned by the federal or provincial governments. Some 87% of Ontario is Crown land. Crown land in Ontario is managed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry — this includes shore lands and the beds of most lakes and rivers.
  13. Carl Davies wrote: What is the difference between camping on crown land and are at risk either way.or not!
  14. John wrote: It seems none of these bans affect our Prime Minister. While all Canadians were told to stay in their homes for Easter Weekend our Prime Minister decided it was time to spend the weekend at the Quebec Cottage and have a Easter egg Hunt for his Children.
  15. Tyson Gareau wrote: Thank you so much. I live in atikokan Ontario. Camping is a big part of our health. We live miles from anything with nothing but Bush and lakes in between. I do understand concerns with people not following rules and gathering. Those people are not likely to follow rules anywhere. I believe where we live there is a huge need for us being able to enjoy what little we have left of our lifestyles. I would gladly write up a petition if you'd help spread it, or sign one if you did. All of us here in northern Ontario would be very grateful!
  16. Gins wrote: It should not be prohibited if there is physical distancing. To camp in the middle of nowhere where you see no one in order to fish and hunt should be allowed. If you bring your own supplies and not shop in the area I cannot see where this is a problem. There is more physical distancing in these situations than than staying in town. We need to be able to enjoy nature. How much further away from people can you get than to set up camp in the wilderness?
  17. Robert MacDonald wrote: I’m sure this will be lifted in time for the spring bear hunt. The North is still frozen and ice is still on the lakes. Patience people, patience.
  18. Alex Napier wrote: I am a seventy-eight year man who has been camping at the same place for the past fifty-nine years ... it is about five kilometers back in the bush beside a small lake where I pitch my tent each April and leave it up until October ... I live in an Orillia rooming-house with five other adults so I look forward all winter to the solitude I enjoy at this place I love so very much ... I usually stay at my campsite 2 to 4 nights each week and seldom see anyone else except for the occasional visit of two or three gentlemen who camp directly across the lake from me ... please tell me this ban against camping on crown land does not include my situation ... in case more information is helpful, I park my car in the hamlet of Severn Falls and with pack on my back I cross the Severn River and follow railroad tracks for three kilometers then go two kilometers through the bush to my campsite on Shaw Lake ... Many thanks: Alex Napier
    • Jason Bain wrote: Unfortunately, it appears this ban would apply to your situation, Alex, if the camping spot is on Crown land. Stay healthy and stay well.
  19. Robert MacDonald wrote: Anyone here of an extension of ban? If not it ends tomorrow.
  20. Melissa Wilson wrote: With the new ban on camping in Provincial Parks until May 31st, does crownland get affected as well?
    • Meghan Sutherland wrote: The OFAH says, "For the most part, Crown lands can be used the same way they were prior to COVID-19 measures being implemented. The Government of Ontario has prohibited camping on Crown land and closed all provincial parks and conservation reserves. For more details on these closures and changes to Crown land camping, please visit"
  21. Adam wrote: The government bans camping on crown land, yet you can still pick up a hotel room across the province... Let’s get real hear. The ban is stupid. It’s even dumber once you realize that people can purchase hotel/motels rooms. Let’s face it the government is trying to prevent an influx of people packing up shop and moving to the bush for social distancing. Hopefully this doesn’t last much longer.
  22. Robert MacDonald wrote: Lakes are still frozen, there’s still snow in the bush and bush trails are saturated with water.
  23. Lln wrote: What about full time rv'ers van lifers etc, that live in ontario and rely on these crown lands for a few days in diff areas..or 21 days a site? where the hell do they go? We lived in them before covid19 and have no home..that is our home. We have months of supplies and never leave our area. Rely on fishing and hunting as part if our essential food. We are bot snow birds either. Do we park on the hwy? Ive seen more cottagers an regs out and about, driving, walking onb4 wheeler's etc and pulling trailers to cottages and we arw homeless..I refuse to have no place to go..This is bot okay and btw the lakes are bit frozen. everyone's coming up for hunt so why do we have no place to go..why is crown land shut down for us but not for hunters we hunt too. I am alone and i have no place to go and thai virus is scary enough. I've not left my rv since this started and i don't usually due to depression, unless i am fishing for essential food, which is rare or i attended the store 2. Once for food n once for dog food. I have dr visits by phone n have my prescriptions ready before i meet them at the door.
  24. Rayl wrote: Yes this to me made no sense at first blush. But I don't think it's the camping that's the issue here - it's the traveling back and forth from GTA into cottage country and beyond while stopping at restrooms, food outlets and stores along the way. That's a explanation I see to justify it. And of course they can't ban travel.
  26. John Hihn wrote: I do not see how this prevents social gathering. If you are camping responsibly with immediate family who you live with you are still abiding by the health regulations. If you are also maintaining social distancing and taking all precautions needed to prevent the spread of the virus what harm are yo doing to the rest of the population.
  27. Mike Parker wrote: Hope camping at pro parks is open for July as I still have my reservation booked for mid July!
    • Meghan Sutherland wrote: Hi Mike, us too, but if the parks aren't open by then, you'll be issued a refund automatically.
  28. James Black wrote: I do not understand how crown land camping being banned does anything to protect anyone from covid19. If people are maintaining the other criteria such as household members only and 6ft distancing if meeting up with others. The enjoyment of crownland the outdoors and sunshine provides a much needed release for many who enjoy this. This also ensures physical and mental health. The ability to avoid people in the outdoors is much more likely then in the walmart and grocery store parking lots. This is understanding that people may get injured in the outdoors however i feel it is much more likely people stuck at home with no release will face far more likely mental and physical health issues if this goes on. I would like to think this ban can be recinded asap. As well it makes no sence whatsoever that the fire ban doesnt effect people south of barrie fire zones. Makeing certain restrictions and recomondations would make more sence then an all out fire ban. Such as having a water source close to the fire. Having a 12 foot radius of clear ground around fire pit free of combiatible debris and clutter. All of wich moat northerners know to do. There are far more covid cases south of the barrie fire zones and far more infraatructure and risk to public then the farther north zones.
  29. JM King wrote: Does any one know if the no camping / fire ban rule is being enforced on Crown Land? What is the likely penalty?
  30. Brian in Whitby wrote: The closure of criwn land for camping make no sense to me as long as the group is small and follows other guidelines such as socisl distancing. The OFAH should be challengibg this and some of the other boneheaded decisions by asking how camping can possibly contribute to the spread of Covid19. Similarly the closing of parks and conservation areas does little if anything to srop the spread. All that does is concentrate the fisher people in fewer areas, increasing the crowding and making the spread all the more likely. It is questionable if these draconian measures are needed. In Ontario the total number of cases active, deceased or resolved amount to only 0.1 % of the population. The chaces of meating an infected person while camping on a canoe trip are negligible. They are about the same as encountering an infected person while walking on crown land and certainly less than the risk of staying in a hotel. The township where my cottage is located has passed a regulation theat seasonal residents who ho to their cottage must self quarantine for 14 days after arriving. This despite the fact that I have already been self quarantined since the beginning. I can't even go fishing! alone! in my canoe! Where is the science in these decisions? Do I sound like I'm losing it? Fushing and camoing and connecting with nature helps our mental health. Denying us access to these activities hurts our mental health.
    • Meghan Sutherland wrote: Hi Brian, please see this letter sent to Premier Ford on Friday May 1st:
  31. Angie Cornish wrote: Hello , I’m wondering if crown land has been lifted as it says till April 23 then May 6 . And doesn’t say extended . Just want to make sure Thanks Angie
    • Jason Bain wrote: From "Due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), recreational camping is banned on Crown land until further notice to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and well-being of Ontarians. Under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, while the order is in effect, you cannot: camp for recreational purposes on Crown land administered by MNRF under the Public Lands Act occupy tents or other camping structures, such as trailers, recreational vehicles and watercraft equipped for overnight accommodation The prohibition will remain in place until further notice. We will continue to monitor the situation and re-evaluate if further actions are required."
  32. Dirk Hallaert wrote: I was just wondering is it ok to place your trailer on crown land but not camp init til ban has lifted?
    • Meghan Sutherland wrote: Hi Dirk, From “Due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), recreational camping is banned on Crown land until further notice to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and well-being of Ontarians. Under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, while the order is in effect, you cannot: camp for recreational purposes on Crown land administered by MNRF under the Public Lands Act occupy tents or other camping structures, such as trailers, recreational vehicles and watercraft equipped for overnight accommodation The prohibition will remain in place until further notice. We will continue to monitor the situation and re-evaluate if further actions are required.”
  33. Dirk wrote: Thanks megan but I just want to park my trailer on crown land not camp til ban is lifted we are looking for a strat answer yes or no??
    • Meghan Sutherland wrote: You'll notice the copy says you cannot occupy trailers on crown land during this prohibition. The answer is no.
  34. JAY wrote: I understand that crown land camping is banned for the time being. What is the penalty if I were to chose to camp on crown land? can't seem to find that answer anywhere.
    • Meghan Sutherland wrote: Jay, because crown land camping is a banned activity, the penalties for non-observance are not being advertised. Check here for changes: (but don't expect a laundry list of fines, as it will only encourage people to not respect the closure). We recommend respecting the closure, and keeping social and physical distancing parameters.
  35. RaY michaud wrote: When will crown land camping be allowed?
    • Meghan Sutherland wrote: Ray, not as yet, but you can check here regularly for updates:
  36. Ray Michaud wrote: When will crown land be open to camping in Ontario?
  37. Robert MacDonald wrote: The government is just protecting the 87% of the province that is virus free. I am just hoping it opens before the gated campgrounds open with their communal urinals, and showers. Are there any sick people north of Lake Nipigon? C’mon man...
  38. Jackie wrote: Hello. I understand camping is prohibited but can we still drive/walk through the land and explore?
    • Meghan Sutherland wrote: Jackie, it depends on the park. Please find our recent story on this, which includes a list of which parks are open:
  39. keith L jones wrote: please let campers know when we will be able to camp on crown land it is very important to me. thankyou keith
    • Meghan Sutherland wrote: Keith, we will post as soon as we're informed, but you can also check the status here:
  40. Kathy laforge wrote: On May 14th the premier announced camping would be allowed in private campgrounds and that provincial parks would open. I think we should be permitted to camp on crown land, I am in no contact with any other people if I go pitch my tent on an island or park my trailer in the Bush up a back road!!! We do this every year to go spring fishing and see no one!!
  41. terry graham wrote: i think this is sad ,i cannot go camping on my own like i have for years but i can go golf then head to bar inside ,real good one.
  42. Joey Fritz wrote: this is bullshizzz, I aint gona see anyone out in the bush, I needa fish to eat.
  43. Rick Gower wrote: Good morning all Has there been any talk regarding when they think crownland camping will resume,or is it in a plans to keep it shut down for a complete summer? Any kind of update would be appreciated thank you RIck.
    • Meghan Sutherland wrote: Rick, we're keeping our eyes peeled for when it opens, but in the interim, you can also find updates here:
  44. Carmen wrote: Meghan Sutherland that site hasn’t been updated since they closed crown land. I have been checking on a daily.
    • Meghan Sutherland wrote: Carmen, we're checking too. We will report on the site as soon as new information is made available. Thank-you.
  45. stanley s carlson wrote: are natives of first nations banned from crown land camping
  46. Robert MacDonald wrote: So let me get this straight. We are allowed to gather in groups of five, use coved 19 safety measures, go and buy an ounce of really good pot from the government. Go to the Beer Store, the LCBO, get our other supplies, and like get totally wasted man... But we cannot go out in the middle of nowhere with our spouses and camp and canoe with no booze or dope. Is this correct?
  47. Matt Belshaw wrote: Looks like the ban will be lifted on Monday 1st JUNE although there restrictions on group size:
  48. curtis collins wrote: ford is making more poor decisions.. apparently camping is not as safe as golf and many outdoor sports... i am extremely disappointed in the gov'ts running of this non disaster the government created called covid.. ford just likes controlling people to make himself look important