Day use at Ontario Parks1
- What is the Advance Daily Vehicle Permit pilot project?
Beginning June 7, 2021, visitors will be able to obtain a daily vehicle permit, providing guaranteed access and greater certainty when planning a day visit to a provincial park.
Noteworthy: The first sentence ought to read “visitors must obtain”. Also, this includes everyone who had already purchased an annual or seasonal park pass.
The advance daily vehicle permit service will be available at:
Forks of the Credit
Since June I’ve been going on-line at 7:00 on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to get day passes for Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays of the following week. I’ve never been unable to secure a pass.
Following each visit, a survey appears in one’s e-mail inbox and one of those questions is the subject of today’s rant:
My response (entered in the comments at the end of the survey):
No, I do not like the park’s attendance limited – not even a little. It was a terrible decision!
Presqu’ile is my park, I visit four to five times each week and am never happier than when I’m walking Jobe’s Woods, or mucking about in the marsh looking for turtles and frogs, or picnicking and swimming on the south shore, or exploring the marsh boardwalk – all and always with camera in hand. I am a wildlife photographer so one might presume that I like the park less busy (read: quieter) but that is definitely not the case.
Nothing makes me happier than to see the park being enjoyed and used by as many people as possible, particularly those toting kiddos – be they their children or grands. The joy they experience – flying their first kite, or their shrieks of glee as they jump into the (usually) too cool waves of Lake Ontario, or their utter awe as they see their first turtle up close, or, or, or – that joy is infectious and delightful.
Engaging: To interest someone in something and keep them thinking about it; to become involved, or have contact, with someone or something.
Presqu’ile is a place of enormous and complex engagement for people of all ages, abilities, likes and dislikes. Limitations should never be imposed upon a place with such power of captivation, education and pleasure!
Once within the park’s embrace, a regular anomaly happens – I’ve witnessed it myself too many times to count – phones are set aside, turned off, even, as senses are overloaded by the natural world: Instead of swimming in a sea of social media hipsters and their long lists of ”must-haves”, folks are swimming in the lake. Instead of surfing the net, they’re surfing the lake’s waves on their boogie boards.
There is an enormous social and personal cost to participating in the unlimited world of the internet where advertisements pop up all too frequently and without context. Advertisers know our kids better than we do, hell, they know us better than we know ourselves – all thanks to techies the world over who spend all their waking hours designing algorithms to reel in unsuspecting and naive viewers. Click bait. The only bait at Presqu’ile is worms and minnows.
I’ve seen first hand that Presqu’ile is more engaging than those algorithms. Apple’s Maps is redundant in park exploration whether by bicycle, SUP or on foot. Video game play pales when choices like swimming, fishing, watching for wildlife, visiting the nature centre for talks with the Naturalist, seeing their first lighthouse, enjoying an ice cream cone (complete with drips running down their hands), watching the black spiders scurry through the pebbles on the south shore, pitching their first tent, watching a turtle cross the road (maybe even helping it along so it doesn’t get hit), seeing a snake sunning herself on the rock retaining walls on Atkins Lane, seeing their first cygnets and ducklings up close on the lagoon at Calf Pasture Point, seeing their first Oriole nest and marvelling at its architectural beauty…
Now, if overcrowding was preventing some visitors from enjoying those activities, the limitation of guests would be completely understandable. However, even in the busiest months (July and August) on days when the barricades were in place and park access was sold out, the park was not overly busy; there was still plenty of space for more visitors and their vehicles, there were lots of empty stretches of beach, there were empty picnic tables all along the south shore and seldom was there more than two vehicles in either the Jobes Woods or Calf Pasture Point parking areas.
Park visitors eagerly embrace an unplugged, fully manual, vacation or day visit. Instead of with a screen, they engage in the natural world with all five senses and relax into awareness of its beauty and scope. Their mental, spiritual and physical health is improved. They leave feeling restored.
Truly, not you folks (Parks Ontario) nor anyone else have the right to limit access to a place that offers such riches and enrichment.
’Til next time, y’all…