Natural Resources Minister Michael Gravelle has announced a new partnership with the municipalities affected to keep three parks — Fushimi Lake, René Brunelle and Ivanhoe Lake — open this summer.
“This would not have happen if the municipalities were not on board,” said Nickel Belt NDP MPP France Gélinas. “We were able to get a reversal because the entire north came together and worked as one.”
The province issued a media release stating its willingness to work with the townships in which the parks are located to make them financially viable.
“Ontario is working with the Town of Hearst, the Township of Moonbeam and the City of Timmins to keep visitor services at provincial parks in their areas,” the media release stated.
“Under a two-year pilot project, Ontario Parks will work with the respective municipalities to operate (the) parks, with the goal of increasing their revenue and visitation rates. Municipal partners will be responsible for covering any financial losses incurred during the pilot period.”
In September 2012, the province announced it was changing these parks from operating to non-operating designation along with seven others because of low visitation and occupancy levels that resulted in financial losses.
Working collaboratively with municipalities is part of the McGuinty government's plan to strengthen the economy and sustain jobs for families.
Gélinas, who issued a statement alongside Timmins-James Bay MPP Gilles Bisson, cautiond that New Democrats are not 100-per-cent satisfied with this deal.
“We still believe provincial parks should be owned and operated by the provincial government,” they said. “But having said that, we celebrate this victory because in the end we were able to come to a compromise. And that’s what negotiations are all about.”