Three northern communities are tying up to operate Mississagi Provincial Park (Ontario, Canada).
As per a report, the province ran the park seasonally between 1965 and 2013. However, it was shut down in 2012.
The City of Elliot Lake assumed operations the following year and has been operating the campground with 87 sites.
Now, the city has partnered with Serpent River First Nation and Mississauga First Nation to form the newly-incorporated Mississagi Park Foundation. The foundation will manage the park once a new management agreement is negotiated in the upcoming months.
The transition plan to move from city to foundation is set for the winter of 2023.
“With the First Nations being at the table, we hope to broaden the scope of what the park can offer…more than we could when it was simply just the City of Elliot Lake operating a provincial park,” said Daniel Gagnon, chief administrative officer for the City of Elliot Lake.
In the initial four to five years after the municipality took over the provincial park, it lost an average of CA$50,000 to CA$60,000 annually.
“It’s a loss, but it could also be seen as an investment because of the tourism value,” Gagnon said.
The increasing demand for outdoor activities, such as camping, due to the pandemic has resulted in an increase in revenue from the park.
“The trend has improved on the bottom line, and we’ve only lost about CA$30,000 in the last two years,” Gagnon said.
“The park is still a huge asset to the community,” he added.
The partnership’s goal is to provide new avenues for Indigenous learning and opportunities for cultural exchange as well as other benefits.
John Trudeau, a councilor for the Serpent River First Nation, stated that the north of Elliot Lake is traditional territory for Anishnabek People.
“In this day and age, we sought out to develop partnerships and to actually be part of our economic development initiatives,” he said.
Trudeau said the First Nations likely could get grants or other financial aid to support expansions, programs, and other park projects.
“There’s lots of things we can do, and that can be done,”
“We need jobs; we need our young people to stay in this area and to grow and be a part of this area. There is tremendous opportunity here, and we’re going to be working to push forward those opportunities,” he added.