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Ontario Government Plans to Enhance Bigwind Lake Provincial Park for Year-Round Recreation

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The Ontario government has unveiled its ambitious vision to transform Bigwind Lake Provincial Park, a sprawling 5,000-acre park located east of Bracebridge in the scenic Muskoka region. In an official news release issued on Thursday, the province announced plans to revamp the park, offering new amenities such as campsites and year-round recreational activities.

Under the proposed upgrades, Bigwind Lake Provincial Park will feature overnight camping facilities, including electrified campgrounds and backcountry camping options. Visitors will be able to enjoy a variety of recreational pursuits, including cross-country skiing, canoeing, and hiking. To accommodate the increased demand, the government plans to introduce 250 additional campsites and up to 25 new cabins, expanding the Ontario Parks system.

Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, David Piccini, expressed his enthusiasm for the project, drawing upon his personal experiences of camping in Ontario Parks. He emphasized the significance of providing access to the great outdoors and highlighted the government’s commitment to investing in Ontario Parks, the largest provider of outdoor recreational experiences in the province. This development marks the first new operating provincial park in nearly two generations.

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Bigwind Lake Provincial Park is presently classified as a non-operating provincial park, offering limited self-guided recreational opportunities such as hiking. The upcoming enhancements will involve the introduction of staff, maintained facilities, and campsites. Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry and MPP for Parry Sound–Muskoka, expressed excitement about the park’s transformation, emphasizing that residents and tourists will soon have access to a beautiful and quintessential provincial park. Bigwind Lake will become the 116th operating provincial park in Ontario.

The province anticipates that the revamped park will generate approximately $16 million annually for Bracebridge and its surrounding areas, based on projected visitation rates. Mayor Rick Maloney of Bracebridge praised the initiative, noting that it will strengthen the tourism and hospitality sectors while providing a space for people to connect with nature. The development aligns with the municipality’s commitment to fostering long-term economic growth.

Construction at the park site is expected to commence in the fall, although an official opening date has not yet been announced. The revamped site will feature a visitor center, electric vehicle charging stations, and electrified campsites, reflecting the government’s commitment to sustainability.

Furthermore, the Ontario government invites Ontarians to contribute to the park’s design features by participating in an online survey, available until August 6. In the coming months, the government plans to engage Indigenous communities, local municipalities, stakeholders, and the public to gather input on the proposed new operating park.

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