Public urged to keep on pressuring government on camping issue – by Wayne Snider (Timmins Daily Press – October 19, 2012)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

IROQUOIS FALLS – The Minister of Natural Resources is listening to what Northerners have to say about losing camping privileges at area provincial parks. But citizens need to keep pressuring the government to save these campsites.

This was the message conveyed at Friday’s meeting of the Northeastern Ontario Municipal Association (NEOMA) in Iroquois Falls.

On Thursday, Natural Resources Minister Michael Gravelle met with Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren, chairman of NEOMA, and Kapuskasing Mayor Al Spacek, president of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities. This came on the heels of a meeting between Gravelle and MPP Gilles Bisson (NDP — Timmins-James Bay) on Monday.

Local provincial parks impacted by the cost-cutting decision include Ivanhoe Lake in Foleyet, Greenwater in Cochrane, Rene Brunelle in Kapuskasing, Fushimi Lake in Hearst, The Shoals in Chapleau and Tidewater in Moosonee. Other parks on the list are Caliper Lake in Nestor Falls, Mississagi in Elliot Lake, Obatang between Wawa and White River, and Springwater in Midhurst.

“What we included in our presentation was a little bit of dialogue on the discrepancies in the numbers by the province as to the cost of these parks and the revenue, based on the 2011 parks report created by the government … so that they need to re-check these numbers,” Laughren said at the meeting.

“We also talked about the impact this would have on Northerners … and at the public meeting in Timmins, they (members of the public) indicated they would be willing to participate in civil disobedience to save their parks.

“The third thing, we felt that if they had dialogue ahead of time that there are solutions to make up the funding.

“He was very receptive and is willing to look at some of the solutions we put forth in the document.”

Spacek, in a phone interview, talked about the presentation.

“The minister seemed impressed by the quality and calibre of the submission,” he said. “Their rationale is that these parks are too costly to run. We think they can break even or even turn a profit.”

Among the recommendations is an increase in the number of seasonal camping passes sold, which is currently limited to 25% of the total number of campsites.

For the rest of this column, please go to the Timmins Daily Press website: