SUBJECT: MUSKOKA LAKES PARKS
Dear Minister Yurek,
The Ontario Government owns substantial lands in the Township of Muskoka Lakes. Two of those properties that encompass almost 8,000 acres, are the Hardy Lake and the Torrance Barrens Provincial Parks. These parks are provincial jewels and huge global tourist assets that provide immense pleasure for Ontarians, with a virgin natural Canadian Shield Lake and a globally recognized Dark Sky Preserve.
Recent illegal activities, along with the accumulation of garbage and the collapse of minimal infrastructure, highlight the need for improved governance. Support for these properties is needed to enhance their status as economic and recreational Muskoka assets.
In the past, minimal maintenance was provided by the Township of Muskoka Lakes and volunteers to remove dead falls and build primitive bridges and trails. The MNRF also provided some oversight and resources. However, a clear delineation of a park plan outlining who would supply leadership oversite, as well as materials and labour was always very nebulous. Furthermore, it was always a challenge for third parties like the township, to obtain permission from the MNRF to work on Crown Lands.
We are requesting that since responsibility for provincial parks has been transferred to your ministry, it would be an ideal time to develop an improved governance model for these parks in conjunction with all stakeholders. The current illegal activities, accumulation of garbage and deterioration of infrastructure, hinders the leverage these parks could provide for recreation and tourism in Muskoka.
As president of the Muskoka Ratepayers’ Association I would be pleased to provide further input to develop a path forward on this issue.