Developing a management plan for Bigwind Lake Provincial Park

Regulation Number(s):
Instrument Type:
Bill or Act:
Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006
Summary of Proposal:
Ontario is providing more opportunities to get outside and enjoy more time in nature, including improved access to greenspaces throughout the province. To achieve this, we have proposed the creation of the first new full-service operating provincial park in over 40 years at Bigwind Lake Provincial Park.

Following an incredible response in the initial stage of consultation, we've actively listened to your feedback. Building upon this valuable input, we conducted extensive studies on environmental and cultural values, potential impacts, and key design elements to build the park.

As we continue to engage with the local community and stakeholders, and maintain ongoing discussions and consultation with Indigenous communities, we are excited to present our preliminary management plan for the proposed operating park.

About Bigwind Lake Provincial Park

Bigwind Lake Provincial Park is a 1,967-hectare natural environment class park located approximately 20 kilometres east of Bracebridge. The park protects upland forests of sugar maple, hemlock and yellow birch, and low-lying swamps, marshes and meadows.

The park is currently non-operating, which means it offers low-intensity, self-guided recreational opportunities, such as nature appreciation and paddling, but does not have staffing or maintained facilities.

Bigwind Lake Provincial Park Preliminary Management Plan
We are preparing a new management plan for Bigwind Lake Provincial Park to guide:
• the creation of this new operating provincial park, and
• the protection and management of the park for a 20-year period.

Stage 1 of the management planning process (previous proposal - see ERO number 019-6666)

From June 22 to September 4, 2023, we invited you to comment on the proposed development of a new operating provincial park at Bigwind Lake Provincial Park. This included an opportunity to review and provide feedback on park background information that would inform the development of the new management plan.
We received 150 comments through the Environmental Registry of Ontario, or by email, mail or phone. We also received almost 7,000 submissions through the survey, which included over 16,000 individual comments through open-ended questions.

See ERO number 019-6666 for more information on the comments received during stage 1 of the management planning process.

Comments were considered when preparing the preliminary management plan for review.
Stage 2 of the management planning process (current proposal)

We are now seeking your review and comment on the preliminary management plan for the park.

The preliminary management plan presents draft policy direction for the protection, development and management of the park, and includes:
• a summary of feedback received during the first opportunity of consultation, information learned through studies conducted in 2023 and next steps for the project
• purpose and vision statements to guide the management of the park
• information on Indigenous communities and their traditional territories
• details on key park values, such as wildlife and habitats
• zoning to identify the general location of proposed facilities and recreational opportunities
• policies to protect important natural and cultural values, including species at risk and their habitats
• details on recreational opportunities and the proposed development of:
• campgrounds, backcountry campsites and roofed accommodations
• a visitor services hub with amenities to enhance visitor experience
• a trail system
• support facilities, such as comfort stations and maintenance facilities
• preliminary themes for research, potential partnerships and education

As we enter this second stage of consultation, your input on the preliminary management plan is crucial in refining our park planning efforts. Ontario Parks envisions a future that adapts to the evolving needs of our community. With a firm commitment to inclusivity, the park will cater to changing demographics, diverse visitor dynamics, and the growing demand for unique outdoor experiences.

The detailed design phase of this project will begin in 2024 and will prioritize environmental design to ensure the park remains a vital part of the natural and cultural landscape for generations to come. We will embrace technology and prioritize sustainability, aiming to create a shared vision where nature, diversity and innovation converge, offering an unparalleled and enjoyable outdoor experience.

Our final management plan, which will guide park management over the next 20 years, will be refined to incorporate your input and new information as it becomes available. This iterative approach ensures that your input and evolving insights continue to shape the park's design and management.

Your input is greatly valued as we shape the future of Ontario Parks with our newest and most modern operating park.
Analysis of Regulatory Impact:
There are no direct compliance costs or benefits to regulated stakeholders.
Further Information:
Proposal Number:
Posting Date:
March 20, 2024
Comments Due Date:
May 4, 2024