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Ontario offers free day-use park permits until September

Well. it's taken the Ontario government too long to reopen provincial parks to campers, but the province is making up for it by offering free day-use permits.

Running until September 2, 115 provincial parks will be free for day use to Ontario residents. And, beginning June 7, visitors will be able to guarantee access to 17 select Ontario Parks to avoid long line-ups during popular and busy visitation times by obtaining a daily vehicle permit in advance.

“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. “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.”

Visitors will be able to obtain a daily vehicle permit in advance for select provincial parks up to five days prior to arrival. This will allow people to plan ahead and have guaranteed access, which means more time enjoying the parks, preventing overcrowding and less time in long lines. As of June 7, visitors can check daily vehicle permit availability for specific parks and dates on the reservations website.

Parks included in this initiative include: 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.

Ontario also announced a number of other park improvements as follows:

· upgrading more electrical campsites while also expanding and improving roofed accommodations, such as cabins and yurts over the next four years;
· inviting the private sector to submit their most innovative ideas for new recreation experiences they can deliver at parks, with the best ideas receiving support through seed money;
· creating a one-stop shop for all local, regional, provincial and national park recreation opportunities in Ontario.

Ontario Parks are still only open for local day-use activities under the current stay-at-home order. But camping and other activities are planned to be reintroduced in stage one of the province's new reopening plan, likely to occur on June 14. 

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