Provincial park getting overhaul

by Editorial Staff | June 23, 2023
Bigwind Lake. (Photo courtesy Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks)

A Bracebridge-area provincial park is getting a major upgrade. The upgrade will make it Ontario’s first new all-season, full-service provincial park in more than 40 years.

Bigwind Lake Provincial Park will offer overnight and electrified campgrounds, backcountry camping, and recreational activities including cross-country skiing, canoeing, and hiking, the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks announced June 22.

Construction is expected to begin in fall 2024. Once complete, the park is expected to add 250 campground campsites and as many as 25 new cabins to the provincial system.

“Having grown up camping in Ontario Parks with my dad, I know just how special it is to have access to the great outdoors,” David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, stated. “This will be the first new operating provincial park in almost two generations, and with the demand on our parks system on the rise, our government understands the importance of investing in Ontario Parks, which is the largest provider of outdoor recreational experiences in the province.”

Big upgrade planned

The nearly 5,000-acre (1,967-hectare) park already exists but is currently classified as a non-operating provincial park. Meaning it offers low-intensity, self-guided recreational opportunities, such as hiking and nature appreciation, but does not have staff, maintained facilities, or campsites.

Two canoeists paddling, with a dog
Photo courtesy Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks

The proposed new park will be fully serviced and designed with the visitor experience in mind, officials stated. It will feature modern buildings and amenities such as a visitor centre, electric vehicle charging stations, and electrified campsites. Work on the park will also include environmentally sustainable elements, such as low-energy buildings, easy-to-access biking and walking routes, and wildlife-friendly planning and design.

Park expected to be popular

“Parry Sound–Muskoka is home to some of Ontario’s most popular provincial parks. Today’s announcement reaffirms our government’s commitment to protecting these special places,” said Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry and MPP, Parry Sound–Muskoka. “Residents and tourists will soon have access to another truly beautiful and quintessential provincial park. I have full confidence that Bigwind Lake Provincial Park will become a very popular destination for people to take in the splendor of our area.”

The government will engage Indigenous communities, local municipalities, stakeholders and the public on the proposed new operating park in the coming months, officials stated. The public can comment on the park’s design features until August 6 by clicking here

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