Have your say in management plan for Georgian Bay Islands National Park

Parks Canada is in the midst of creating a new management plan for Georgian Bay Islands National Park, and the public can have its input through live video conference or in writing.

“Parks Canada is currently preparing a management plan for Georgian Bay Islands National Park, including Beausoleil Island National Historic Site. The management plan will guide decisions and actions in protecting, presenting and operating the park for the next decade and beyond. The draft management plan has identified opportunities related to resource conservation in a fragmented landscape and long-term asset sustainability in the wake of climate change. It aims to enhance visitor experiences and facilitate easier access, strengthen the park’s formal relationships with Indigenous communities, and find ways to improve park awareness and community support.”

To learn more about how you can participate, and to read the draft management plan, visit the park’s website. Video conferences are scheduled for the evening of March 23 in English and March 24 in French, and you’re asked to register at least 24 hours in advance. There’s also an online questionnaire you can fill out, and I encourage you to do so if you are a park user.

The focus of the draft management plan is the park’s main asset, Beausoleil Island. Personally, I’m most interested in learning where the park envisions recreational boating fitting into the user mix. The draft management plan makes no mention of the many, many boaters who access the park by means other than park docks (and unless these boaters pay for a seasonal dinghy permit, they’re not making a direct contribution to park revenues. as someone who has been visiting the main park holding, Beausoleil Island, for about 25 years in a variety of boats, I seldom use a dock and anchor out instead.

On boaters, the draft management plan says: “Boaters remain an important visitor group, accessing the park through many dock locations. The demand for docking facilities on most summer weekends is greater than what is available. Boaters do not access the park through a common entrance, and dated fee collection methods and limited connection with park staff remain challenges. Most dock areas require self-registration but park staff attend them for compliance and visitor services. As most docks have no time limit on the length of stay, those with seasonal mooring passes can enjoy long term stays, limiting dock accessibility for others.”

One of the draft plan’s targets is: “By 2026, an analysis of services offered to boaters and other visitors, including segment demand, seasonal passes, mooring permits, payment and reservation options is completed and processes are modernized and improved as required.” The mention of “mooring permits” suggests that the park is considering installing mooring fields with fixed mooring buoys, which a visitor can reserve. I hope to learn more, but I’ll take a wild guess and say mooring fields could become part of boating services in popular anchorages like Cedar Point, Chimney Bay, and perhaps greater Beausoleil Bay and Fryingpan Bay.

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