crown land camping ontario

Camping on Crown land and in Ontario parks restricted and here are the new rules

Crown land camping in Ontario has become an incredibly popular pastime thanks to pandemic-related travel restrictions, but camping in both provincial parks and on any Crown land is now forbidden as a result of the worsening COVID-19 situation in the province.

And it has some people wondering why outdoor activities, which are said to be mostly low-risk, are now being restricted.

The province announced Thursday that camping on Crown land, which is legally owned by either the federal or provincial government, is prohibited starting today until further notice to help stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, residents are not allowed to "camp for recreational purposes on public (Crown) land administered by Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry under the Public Lands Act," nor can they "occupy tents or other camping structures, such as trailers, recreational vehicles and watercraft equipped for overnight accommodation."

Camping in provincial parks was already prohibited by the province's most recent stay-at-home order.

"During the current provincial stay-at-home order, overnight stays including campgrounds, backcountry campsites and roofed accommodations in Ontario Parks will remain closed until further notice in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and support Ontario's further provincial restrictions," says Ontario Parks. 

"We understand this temporary closure of overnight stays in provincial parks may impact your plans, however, the health and well-being of Ontarians is our number one priority."

And impact people's plans it likely has, as campers made a whopping 58,475 reservations at Ontario Parks campsites in just the first few weeks of 2021.

Outdoor daytime activities such as walking, hiking, biking, birdwatching and fishing are fortunately still permitted at many provincial parks, and the same goes for these activities on Crown land.

But Ontarians are being asked to only visit provincial parks or conservation reserves close to home in order to limit non-essential travel, and residents taking part in outdoor daytime activities are also required to practice safety measures such as physical distancing and wearing a mask when required.

Some residents have meanwhile been criticizing the restrictions on camping since outdoor activities are generally much safer than being indoors.

Ontario reported a record-high 4,812 new cases on Friday, but there is no evidence to suggest that any outbreaks have been caused by those going camping and spending time outdoors.

Lead photo by

Jack Nobre

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