Free day-use permits for 115 Ontario provincial parks

Ontario Provincial Park Photo by Shutterstock/Theotivity

The Ontario government has announced that it is providing free weekday daily vehicle permits for 115 provincial parks. The free day-use permits are available now and will continue Monday through Thursday until September 2.

Typically, a daily vehicle fee for an Ontario provincial park would cost between $12 to $21.

In a press release, the provincial government said that the free day-use permits would make it easier and more affordable for people to enjoy the outdoors and nature.

“Getting outdoors and spending time in nature can have many positive benefits on our physical and mental health this summer, as we recover from the impacts of COVID-19,” said Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), in the press release. “That’s why our government is making it easier for people to safely enjoy nature by providing free day-use permits and making it possible to book day trips in advance, which guarantees access to the popular parks close to home.”

The government announced that starting June 7, people looking to visit certain provincial parks will be able to book a daily vehicle permit five days in advance. This guarantees you access to the park on that day.

According to the press release, this initiative is designed to prevent overcrowding and limit time waiting in line-ups to enter the park.

The advanced booking for a daily vehicle permit, however, will only be available at 17 of Ontario’s provincial parks, including: Algonquin, Arrowhead, Batchawana Bay, Craigleith, Darlington, Forks of the Credit, Kakabeka Falls, Kettle Lakes, Lake Superior, Long Point, Mono Cliffs, North Beach, Pinery, Presqu’ile, Sandbanks, Sibbald Point, and Turkey Point.

Over the last year and a half, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a surge in visitation at Ontario’s provincial park. In 2020, the parks recorded over 11 million visits, five per cent more than in 2019. As a result, Ontario Parks is asking all visitors to enjoy the parks safely by physically distancing from other visitors and wearing a mask when physical distancing isn’t possible.

Under the current step one of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen plan, Ontario’s provincial parks are open for overnight stays on campground and backcountry campsites.

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