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Water Today Title May 30, 2024

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Updates 2020/7/4 - 2020/6/27
Holiday water report 2020


By Gillian Ward

With the Canada Day long weekend upon us, WaterToday revisited Canada’s National, Provincial and Territorial Parks to find out where services have been extended since the limited openings in most of Canada, reported earlier this year.

Parks Canada Photo
Photo Credit: Gillian Ward

As it turns out, Provincial and Territorial Parks report demand for campsites and day trips is strong this year, with two provinces reporting doubling of campers over pre-pandemic numbers.

While most jurisdictions are reporting satisfactory compliance with public health measures, certain high traffic locations will see enforcement of physical distancing with increased police presence.

While each jurisdiction has its own specific terms for Parks, in general, campers and day trippers are still advised to attend the Park nearest home, keep up frequent hand washing and to maintain physical distance in public spaces. In every jurisdiction, park enthusiasts are still asked to stay at home if any symptoms of illness are present.

Check local travel restrictions, which take precedence over Parks regulations.

Parks Canada Accessibility Table
*Facilities include public washrooms, showers, picnic areas, playgrounds, firewood supplies, garbage and recycling bins etc
**Recreational Services includes visitor centres, interpretive centres, interactive signage. See the section of the report for the province of territory you are visiting for more details.

Parks Canada Logo
Photo Credit: Gillian Ward


“Being in nature provides important physical and mental health benefits. Going outdoors is a great way to maintain health and wellness, so long as everyone follows physical distancing practices. To help Canadians gain access to the health and wellness benefits that come from being outdoors and in nature, a number of Parks Canada places have gradually started to resume their operations,” offers a spokesperson for Parks Canada.

“Since June 1, Parks Canada has been pleased to welcome visitors back to a number of national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas and allow Canadians to discover nature and connect with history. Visitors have been happy to once again be able to experience these treasured places.”

Open for Summer in National Parks:
  • access to some day use areas, trails, beaches
  • green spaces
  • recreational boating and fishing at some sites
  • Camping services in limited sites

    Closed until Further Notice:
    • Remote national parks, where local or provincial/territorial travel restrictions are in place
    • Interior spaces at national historic sites

    “Visitor services, access, including to beaches and playgrounds, and opening dates for camping will vary across the country depending on local circumstances. All of Parks Canada’s visitor services have been reviewed and adjusted based on the advice of public health experts and measures required by provincial, territorial, and local authorities,” says Parks Canada spokesperson.

    “Visitors should not expect the kind of experience that they have had in the past. To make the most of their Parks Canada experience, visitors are encouraged to plan their trip in advance. The Parks Canada website provides detailed information on what locations are open, what visitors can expect, how to prepare for a visit and what services may be available.”

    For more information, click here


    Ontario Parks report a continued cautious rolling out of Park attractions, facilities and services, notably, the opening beaches in select parks, starting June 12. Check your local Park for specific details.

    A spokesperson for Ontario Ministry of Environment states, “Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our visitors and staff. That’s why we’ve taken a gradual approach to the introduction of activities and services.”

    Ontario Parks will “promote physical distancing in our park spaces and buildings during busy visitation times by limiting occupancy for day-use and camping in select provincial parks. This may include limiting the number of daily vehicle permits sold or the number of campsites available for reservations”, reports Ontario MOE, in an emailed statement to WaterToday.

    Ontario campers and park users are advised to follow the local Park rules through the summer season. “Ministry officers will be present in provincial parks to provide information, assist with emergencies and enforce provincial park rules and regulations. Additionally, these areas may be patrolled by local police or other enforcement agencies.”

    Ontario Parks Services available as of late June 2020:
    • limited day use activities including walking, hiking, biking, birdwatching, boating and paddling.
    • backcountry camping, including access points, paddle and portage routes, and hiking trails.
    • beaches, in specific parks, as maintenance and water testing are completed
    • campgrounds (limited number of sites), washrooms, drinking water and trailer sanitation stations
    Services and facilities not available for Canada Day long weekend, but possibly opening later in the season include:
    • roofed accommodations, park store and rental operations, visitor centers, playgrounds and sports fields
    Closed for the 2020 season:
    • showers, laundry, group camping, picnic shelter rentals and swimming pools will remain closed.


    Newfoundland and Labrador Parks are accessible for a limited number of NL residents only, with limited facilities and no services provided for summer day users. It is recommended that visitors plan ahead, bring their own firewood, food, water and hand sanitizer. Cloth masks are recommended where distance of 2m cannot be maintained.

    Available for summer:
    • Outhouses, for day trippers
    • Limited sites available for camping
    • self contained camping units only, no tenting
    • Checkpoints and dumping stations open

    Closed for the Season:
    • Playgrounds
    • boat rentals
    • shower and laundry facilities
    • Staff are available if you require assistance.

    For further information on the re-opening of NL Provincial Parks, please click here

    Borders remain closed to non-residents, see https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/travel-restrictions/


    “We are thrilled to welcome visitors back to our provincial parks. We had a strong opening period for reservations, almost doubling the amount of reservations compared to 2019”, offers the media spokesperson for Nova Scotia Parks by way of an emailed statement.

    WaterToday was informed, “New measures are in place to ensure Nova Scotians can safely enjoy their visits to provincial parks, beaches, trails and campgrounds. Visitors can expect more frequent cleaning of common areas and signs to promote physical distancing and other healthy practices among the many measures in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

    Only campers with reservations will be allowed to enter campgrounds, maximum 6 occupants, and no visitors. No group campsite, yurts or cabins will be available.

    Washrooms and showers are open to one campsite at a time.

    Wood and ice are available for purchase; dump stations are open for registered campers.

    Beaches, trails and picnic areas are open.

    Playgrounds are not yet open.

    For more details, click here


    A media spokesperson for New Brunswick Parks advises WaterToday that New Brunswick Parks have experienced positive public response in 2020, with overnight stays up 16%, as of the release of this report.

    “As the province moved through recovery phases, provincial parks were able to gradually start reopening green spaces such as trails and beaches. Protocols were in place to ensure physical distancing and proper hygiene; some trails were designated one-way to ensure physical distancing and some were required to remain closed.”

    As of Friday, July 3, residents of all four Atlantic provinces are able to travel across provincial borders without having to self-isolate 14 days.

    Following protocols and requirements set by NB Public Health, all sites are stipulating maximum occupancy in washrooms, gate houses, food and beverage services, and pools.

    “All sites have appropriate signage through the grounds reminding visitors of required protocols on physical distancing, proper hygiene and provide required “waiting/queuing” distances,” states New Brunswick Parks.


    Spokesperson for Tourism PEI contributes,
    “The current situation around COVID-19 has resulted in a number of changes to our camping operation for the coming season. The Chief Public Health Office has developed protocol for campground operations, and we will be following these to help ensure the health and safety of our campers and staff. We realize campers have many questions on what the camping offer will look like this season so we have put together the following list of FAQ's to help you understand what to expect at this point:

    Who will be allowed to camp as of June 26, 2020?
    Our campgrounds will open for Seasonal Campers who have confirmed their reservation before March 31, 2020.

    Are off island campers permitted?
    At this point the border restrictions are still in place. Your site will be held until the restrictions are lifted.

    Will all campground washrooms be open?
    There will be washroom facilities available for campers; however, not all washrooms will be open at this point. The occupancy of each washroom will be reduced. There will be a shower available however; campers will be requested to use the washroom/shower facilities in their unit whenever possible.

    Will laundry rooms be available?
    Laundry facilities will be closed for the 2020 camping season.

    What other services will be affected due to COVID-19?
    Where possible, kitchen shelters will be closed. There will be no recreation programming offered and wood/ice will not be available for sale.

    When will Wi-Fi be available?
    The Province has started the process of selecting a Wi-Fi provider for all eight (8) Provincial Park Campgrounds. The RFP process was delayed by COVID-19 and as a result, there will be NO Wi-Fi available when the campgrounds open. Staff at the Department of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture (EGTC) are working hard to ensure Wi-Fi service is available as soon as possible. Provincial Parks will update each campground as additional information is made available by EGTC staff.

    Will campgrounds be supervised on a 24hr basis this season?
    Yes. All provincial park campgrounds will be staffed on a 24hr basis beginning June 28, 2020

    Will visitors be allowed in Provincial Park campgrounds?
    Yes. All visitors must report to the Park Office upon arrival and adhere to Provincial Park policies as well as all guidelines set out by the Chief Public Health Officer.

    Who will be enforcing Physical Distancing?
    All Provincial Parks will have signage in place indicating the need for Physical Distancing. Campers are responsible to ensure they adhere to the Physical Distancing guidelines. Provincial Park staff will not be responsible for enforcing Physical Distancing but will forward complaints to the appropriate authorities.


    Travel restrictions are in place north of 53rd parallel. Residents of BC, AB, SK, NU, NT, YK and western part of ON may travel directly to their park campsite destination in Northern Manitoba, but the area is closed to all other Canadians and international visitors.

    Services and facilities available this summer in Manitoba Parks include:
    • Showers
    • Washrooms

    Closed for the season:
    • Visitor centres
    • interpretive centres

    Proceed directly to your campsite as no check in is required. Make sure that you know which site you have booked, and have all your own supplies, including toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Pack out all of your garbage.


    A spokesperson for Saskatchewan Parks advised WaterToday by email, “The opening of Saskatchewan Provincial Parks has gone well and campers are eager to get out to the parks this season. We had another busy reservation launch this year which demonstrated the excitement in our park users.”

    “The (SK Parks) season opened in May 2020 with day use for trails, camping opened at 50% capacity in June. With the gradual re-opening of services across the country, Saskatchewan Parks are now offering visitors access to the beaches and playgrounds, the full campsite inventory is now open with showers and washroom facilities.”

    Open in time for summer:
    • beaches
    • playgrounds
    • showers

    “This has been a slow and methodical re-opening and every step along the way has allowed us to implement appropriate safety protocols to ensure the safety of our staff and visitors,” states media spokesperson for Saskatchewan Parks.

    For updates click here


    As per the Alberta Parks website, visitors are expected to wear a mask when near other people, expected to maintain physical distancing, provide your own sanitizer and water, and pack out what you pack in. Campsites are only open to Alberta residents.

    Summer Services:
    • All individual campsites open as of July 1
    • Double campsites with separate picnic tables, fire pits

    • Double sites with shared amenities
    • Beach water quality is not monitored for toxic algae or fecal count

    More info here


    “BC residents love the great outdoors, especially the parks and campgrounds found with our parks and protected areas system,” contributes a BC Ministry of Environment spokesperson.

    BC is experiencing a record-breaking year for number of residents reserving campsites in the parks, WaterToday learned.

    From a statement by BC Ministry of Environment, “We have seen a steady rise in reservations through Discover Camping. On May 25th, BC Parks opened the Discover Camping website to receive new reservations for the following two month rolling window. 50,000 people were accessing the Discover Camping reservation system at 7 a.m. on opening day.”

    Peak traffic on this site in 2016 was 28,000 people logged in to the system at once.

    “Opening day (2016) had 7,800 reservations by 12:30 p.m. We doubled that volume before 10 a.m. (2020) and set a record with 50,749 reservations in one day,” notes BC Ministry of Environment.

    BC campers are commended for accepting the 2020 changes in stride, respecting physical distancing and restrictions required by public health officials to slow the spread of Covid-19.

    Regarding Park services and facilities opening up in time for the summer season, the only change offered is playgrounds opening, in most parks.

    “It is not business as usual and there are many changes park visitors should be aware of, enhanced cleaning measures and procedures, physical distancing protocols, capacity limits for group sites.”

    Specifics for the park nearest your residence can be found here
    Q&AS here


    Nunavut Territorial government reports zero cases of Covid-19 as of the time of this report.

    Parks are open for the summer for residents only with the following limitations:
    • size limit for outdoor gatherings is 25 people.
    • outdoor activities only

    All park buildings will remain closed.


    Territorial Park Campgrounds opened to residents of NT on June 12th, 2020, respecting Public Health orders restricting entry for non-residents. Summer camping is open for residents, with one RV per site allowed.

    Not available at this time:
    • Kitchen shelters
    • showers
    • Gate houses, limited access

    More information here


    Camping is open for residents, but be advised, camping in the Yukon is different during COVID-19:
    “You need to be more self-contained” states the advisory online for Yukon Territorial Parks.

    More info here

    Campers are advised to pre-purchase camp permits on-line or at a vendor, and pack in all supplies including extra water, soap, hand sanitizer and toilet paper.

    Campers are advised to use their own RV toileting and shower facilities and keep their group size to members of combined household bubble, and only one per site.

    WaterToday wishes everyone a safe and healthy outdoor experience in the Parks this summer.

    Note: This articles is being updated as new information becomes available.


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