The Ontario (Canada) provincial government is poised to make a groundbreaking announcement that is sure to exhilarate nature enthusiasts across the province.
After forty years, the province will introduce its first new year-round provincial park, nestling it in the picturesque cottage country about half an hour east of Bracebridge.
Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, David Piccini, will be the bearer of this significant news.
The blueprint for this undertaking involves the transformation of the existing Bigwind Lake Provincial Park — a 5,000-acre area currently classified as “non-operating. Today, Bigwind opens its gates for public walks and hiking, but it does not offer any facilities or staffing.
However, the provincial government’s visionary plan seeks to refurbish Bigwind into a recreational powerhouse, available all year round. The revamped park will boast overnight campgrounds, backcountry camping spots, all-season yurts or cabins, and a slew of enticing activities such as canoeing, hiking, and skiing.
The construction phase is scheduled to kick off in the fall of 2024, and it is expected to open in 2026.
The need for such a transformation has been fuelled by the growing demand for outdoor recreational experiences in Ontario, especially in areas within a comfortable drive from the populous Greater Toronto/Hamilton region.
The revamped park will feature an array of facilities and experiences. From tranquil walking and cycling trails to remote camping sites. More comfort-oriented visitors can enjoy campsites equipped with electricity or unwind in cozy cabins.
The goal is to create 250 campsites with electricity access, up to 25 yurts/cabins, electric vehicle charging stations as well as a visitor center.
Piccini has emphasized the importance of public opinion in shaping this monumental project. Starting Thursday, the ministry will invite public input, aiming to incorporate the ideas and needs of the community into the transformation plan.
Additionally, Piccini has mentioned ongoing engagement with Indigenous communities to ensure a holistic approach to this transformation.
Once completed, the Bigwind Lake Park, which sprawls across an area larger than the nearby Arrowhead Provincial Park, is projected to inject approximately CA$16 million into the Bracebridge area economy.