SUNDAY, APRIL 5 at 1:57 PM
During the COVID-19 outbreak, we recognize that people are looking to go outside and access outdoor spaces for their physical and mental health. When we go outside during this time, it’s important that we do so in compliance with the recommendations of the World Health Organization as well as your local government.
Many parks, trails, and conservation areas in Ontario are staying open to the public during the coronavirus outbreak. They recognize that many of us are seeking asylum in nature during these difficult times, and we’re grateful that they are allowing us to find peace, comfort, and social distance outdoors.
When you get out to enjoy nature, make sure that you are practicing social distancing, being responsible, and not risking your (or other’s) health or safety. Don’t meet up with anyone living outside of your household, and always keep at least a 2 meter (6 foot) distance from those around you on the trails.
As of March 25, the city of Toronto has closed all park amenities and playgrounds. Parks and green spaces remain open, but access to amenities like parking lots, playgrounds, picnic areas, off-leash dog parks, sports fields and courts, skateboard and BMX structures, and exercise equipment will be blocked off.
As of March 30, the Government of Ontario has closed all outdoor recreational amenities across the province. All outdoor recreational amenities in Ontario are now closed, including but not limited to: playgrounds, sports fields and courts, off-leash dog parks, beaches, picnic areas, and other outdoor recreational amenities. Parks, trails, ravines, and conservation areas that aren't closed are still open for walkthrough access so long as you remain a 2 meter (6 foot) distance from others.
Which parks are open?
Conservation Areas in Southern Ontario
“The public are encouraged to make use of the Springwater Forest and trail system or any of our other conservation areas. CCCA is closing its Administration Centre (8079 Springwater Road, RR#5 Aylmer, ON) to the general public effective March 17, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. The remainder of the Springwater Maple Syrup Festival has also been cancelled.”
“Outdoor conservation areas and trails will continue to be open as usual, but indoor facilities such as the John R. Park Homestead will be closed. The roads at Holiday Beach Conservation Area are closed to vehicles. Visitors may, for now, continue to park outside of the gates and walk in the park, observing proper physical distancing protocols of remaining at least 2 metres from any other visitor who is not part of your household. At this time, our offices will be closed. All programming is cancelled.”
“At this time, all Conservation Areas and Lands are open given the importance of the outdoors and green space for our own health and well-being. Please be aware that as of today, March 17th, Saugeen Conservation will be closing its office to the general public until further notice. Staff, however, will still be on duty and would be happy to help out with essential services.”
“Trails at SCRCA Conservation Areas will be open to the public, however, trail maintenance may be limited. Washroom facilities will be closed, and gates will be locked. Please be advised that all St. Clair Region Conservation Authority facilities will be closed to the public indefinitely. Members of the public are asked to communicate with Authority staff by telephone or email. Full details on the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority’s COVID-19 pandemic response is available HERE.”
“Although Fanshawe, Pittock and Wildwood Conservation Areas are still closed for the winter season, visitors are welcome to park and walk in to enjoy nature and the outdoors. All UTRCA offices and buildings are closed to the public until Monday, April 6 to help protect visitors and staff from COVID-19. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”
Conservation Areas in Central Ontario:
“The trails at our conservation areas will remain open for passive use. Vault privies at Warsaw Caves and Selwyn Beach Conservation Areas currently remain open for use. The Administrative Office at 250 Milroy Drive will be closed to the public starting on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.”
“TRCA’s trails will remain open, but will not be maintained until further notice; please use discretion, as you are entering at your own risk. All TRCA parks and educational facilities are closed. All buildings within TRCA’s parks and educational facilities, including Kortright Centre for Conservation and Albion Hills Conservation Park, are closed, effective immediately. We have made the decision to close our office to the public until April 5, 2020.”
Phone: 416-661-6600, toll-free 1-888-872-2344
Conservation Areas in Eastern Ontario:
“All CVCA conservation areas remain open to the public as per usual. As weather conditions improve and should the Covid-19 virus situation escalate, the CVCA will consider closing conservation areas for public safety. Effective immediately, Crowe Valley Conservation Authority Office will be closed to the public until further notice. Staff will be available for consultations via telephone and emails.”
“At this time, trails remain open for passive use, the gate fee at Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area has been waived due to COVID-19. All facilities and privies at Conservation Areas are closed. We understand that getting outdoors is important for mental and physical health, if you need to be outside please practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently, do not assemble in groups and respect measures put in place to help protect our community. Cataraqui Conservation Administration Office & Outdoor Centre will be closed to the public until April 14, 2020. Further details at www.crca.ca/news.”
“We are saddened to share that the Proctor Park Conservation Area has been closed to the public due to reports of non-compliant gatherings in the park. Our trails remain open for passive use, providing physical and mental health benefits to members of the public; however, public washroom facilities will be closed. Please be sure to follow physical distancing guidelines and remain more than six feet from others. Properties are NOT being maintained. ALL buildings, washroom facilities, outdoor picnic sites, benches and shelters are closed at this time. Guests visiting our conservation lands do so at “Your Own Risk”. Please DO NOT litter - take your trash with you. Conservation Area facility rentals are suspended until further notice. The Lower Trent Conservation Administration Office is closed to the general public until further notice. The public can reach us by telephone and email.”
“The trails at our conservation areas (Mill of Kintail, Morris Island and Purdon) remain open for physical and mental health benefits. The Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority Administration Centre is closed to the general public until Monday, April 6. The Gatehouse at the Mill of Kintail Conservation Area is closed to the general public until Monday, April 6.”
“Conservation Areas remain open, with Paid Parking removed until April 30, 2020. Quinte Conservation's office is closed to the public until April 6, 2020.”
“The public is invited to continue enjoying our network of nature trails at Gray’s Creek Conservation Area, Cooper Marsh Conservation Area, and Charlottenburgh Park. Please note, our Visitors Centre and washroom facilities are closed at this time. While enjoying our Conservation Areas, we ask that people maintain social distancing and avoid gathering in groups or touching common surfaces. The Raisin Region Conservation Authority (RRCA) Administration Office will be closed to the general public as of March 17, 2020 until further notice.”
“All trails and boardwalks owned and operated by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority will be open to the public free of charge until April 6, 2020. Interpretive centres and other facilities including washrooms and outhouses will be closed however to protect the health and safety of visitors and staff. The RVCA Administrative Centre is closed to the general public.”
Phone: 613-692-3571, or toll-free 1-800-267-3504
“Some Conservation Areas remain open and maintained for passive winter recreation, including: Two Creek Forest Conservation Area, Robert Graham Conservation Area, Warwick Forest Conservation Area, J. Henry Tweed Conservation Area, W. E. Burton Conservation Area, Russell Recreational Trail, and Nokomis Park. The Findlay Creek Conservation Area, access to the Leitrim Wetland (Ottawa) and the Alfred Bog Boardwalk are all closed; please do not access these sites. People can continue to connect to nature, group reservations and events have been cancelled. All of SNC’s Conservation Areas and outdoor facilities are scheduled to regularly open in May. SNC Administrative Office has been closed to the public until further notice, community members are encouraged to use our drop box for paperwork or phone and email to connect with SNC staff.”
Conservation Areas in Northern Ontario:
“The latest information from the Office of the Premier indicates that green spaces in parks, trails, ravines and Conservation Areas can remain open for walk through access, but individuals must maintain the safe physical distance of at least two metres (six feet) apart from others. The LRCA Administrative Office located at 130 Conservation Road, Thunder Bay, is now CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.”
“Trails and conservation areas will remain open to the public, however there will be limited maintenance until further notice. If you continue to use our trails and conservation areas, we ask that you maintain your social distance from others, keep dogs on leash, pick up after your pet, and please use the provided cans to dispose of any garbage. Trails in the Hersey Lake and Gillies Lake Conservation Areas will no longer be groomed. Please use discretion, as you are entering at your own risk. Washroom facilities are not to be used. As of today, March 17, 2020, our office is closed to the general public.”
“You are still welcome to visit any of our 16 Conservation Areas; however trails are not maintained in the winter, and facilities and amenities remain closed. The NBMCA offices in North Bay and Parry Sound are now closed to the public; however, staff are at work, able to provide you with service by phone or email until further notice.”
Phone: North Bay 705-474-5420, Parry Sound 705-746-7566
Email: North Bay email@example.com, Parry Sound firstname.lastname@example.org
“The Sault Ste. Marie Region Conservation Authority owns and operates five conservation areas. These areas are free for everyone to enjoy and are only limited by the weather: Hiawatha Highlands (groomed trails for cross country skiing, fat biking and snowshoeing. Daily passes can be purchased on-line at a reduced price of $10.00 + tax. Rentals will not be available. For more information visit https://hiawathahighlands.com/), Fort Creek (trails are not maintained during the winter months but are available for use, weather dependent), Shore Ridges (trails are not maintained during the winter months but are available for use, weather dependent), Gros Cap (access by car is limited in the winter. The 40 kilometer (25 mile) Saulteaux section of the Voyageur Trail starts in the Gros Cap Conservation Area and runs through to the Hiawatha Highlands Conservation Area), Mark’s Bay (Access is closed November 1st to April 30th annually). We encourage visitors to continue to monitor our website for any updates to services, programs or closures.”
“Lake Laurentian Conservation Area is open for passive recreation. Conservation Sudbury has decided to close our offices to the public effective Friday, March 20, 2020. Staff continue to work and can be reached by phone or email.”
For those living in the city, it may be tricky to find transportation to conservation areas or National Parks. Municipal parks are great nearby options, especially for those who may not have access to a vehicle to safely reach other natural areas. If you do have a vehicle and are able to access natural areas that are further from the city, doing so will prevent overcrowding in urban parks and green spaces.
City of Toronto staff have identified 10 emerging problem areas where there have been complaints about irresponsible or illegal behaviour.
Please avoid following 10 hotspots:
- Bluffer’s Park
- Canoe Landing
- Christie Pits
- High Park
- Humber Bay Park East
- Sunnyside Park
- Trinity Bellwoods
- Van Horne Park
- Woodbine Park
- Sherwood Park
Instead of visiting these high-traffic areas, consider enjoying one of these other Municipal Parks:
Jack Darling Park is currently open. If you visit Jack Darling Park, you MUST practice social distancing (stay a minimum of 2 metres away from others) and do NOT meet up with anyone outside of your own household.
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Humber Bay Park West is currently open. If you visit Humber Bay Park West, you MUST practice social distancing (stay a minimum of 2 metres away from others) and do NOT meet up with anyone outside of your own household.
Marilyn Bell Park is currently open. If you visit Marilyn Bell Park, you MUST practice social distancing (stay a minimum of 2 metres away from others) and do NOT meet up with anyone outside of your own household.
Coronation Park is currently open. If you visit Coronation Park, you MUST practice social distancing (stay a minimum of 2 metres away from others) and do NOT meet up with anyone outside of your own household.
“Trails remain open for social distanced passive use and can be accessed from the entrance located off Outer Harbour Marina Rd. Be aware all maintenance operations have been suspended, and visitors use the trails at their own risk. The Tommy Thompson Park NATURE CENTRE and PARKING LOT are CLOSED. Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) has closed this facility to protect visitors, staff and all other attendants, from the potential risk of contracting COVID-19. Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) regrettably has closed this facility to protect visitors, staff and all other attendants, from the potential risk of contracting COVID-19. Please visit www.trca.ca for updates on when this facility will resume normal operations.”
Scarborough Heights Park is currently open. If you visit Scarborough Heights Park, you MUST practice social distancing (stay a minimum of 2 metres away from others) and do NOT meet up with anyone outside of your own household.
Which parks are closed?
“To reduce the number of visitors at Parks Canada places and to minimize risks to visitors and employees, Parks Canada is building on actions taken last week and is now temporarily suspending all motor vehicle access by visitors at all national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas effective 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 until further notice. Highways and roadways which pass through Parks Canada places will remain open.”
“Ontario’s Provincial Parks are closed to the public from March 19, 2020 until April 30, 2020. This includes car camping, backcountry camping, roofed accommodations, day use opportunities and all public buildings.”
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“In light of updated Province of Quebec public health advisories discouraging non-essential trips and gatherings, concerns about ensuring physical distancing in parking lots, and the impacts of visitors on the infrastructure and services of neighbouring municipalities, the National Capital Commission (NCC) is temporarily closing Gatineau Park at 9 pm on Monday, March 23, 2020.”
Phone: 613-239-5000, or toll-free 1-866-661-3530
Conservation Areas in Central Ontario:
“Effective immediately, all NVCA areas will be closed to the public, including membership pass holders until further notice. Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority to be closed to the public to prevent spread of COVID-19 as of March 18, 2020.”
“The Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority (CLOCA) announces the closure of all eight of their Conservation Areas effective immediately, until further notice. This measure is being taken to proactively protect staff and members of the public from the potential risk of contracting COVID-19. Please note that CLOCA’s administrative office also remains closed to the public until further notice, however CLOCA will continue to operate at full capacity with all departments providing their respective services on a remote basis, with full access to email and phone.”
“In light of COVID-19, the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority's conservation areas and all buildings, including the Ganaraska Forest Centre, will be closed to the public until further notice. The GRCA is asking people to refrain from visiting the Ganaraska Forest during this time. All washroom facilities are closed and the trails are unmaintained. Administrative staff and office hours have been reduced to 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM. Most other staff are working remotely and can be reached directly via email or by calling 905.885.8173 and leaving a voicemail.”
“Effectively immediately, all of our Conservation Areas are closed until further notice. We have made the decision to close our offices beginning March 17, 2020. Although the office will be closed, we will continue to operate remotely. This means that staff will be available by telephone to assist you as necessary and essential services such as flood forecasting and monitoring will continue.”
Phone: 905-895-1281, or toll-free 1-800-465-0437
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“Effective Tuesday, March 24 all conservation areas within the Kawartha Conservation watershed will be closed to the public. Included in the closure are Ken Reid Conservation Area, the off-leash dog park, Windy Ridge Conservation Area, Pigeon River Headwaters, Fleetwood Creek and Durham East Cross Forest. The Kawartha Conservation Administrative Office at 277 Kenrei Road in Lindsay, will be closed to the public to help protect our community.”
“To protect visitor and staff safety during the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic, Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) is closing all conservation areas and trails effective 4 p.m. March 24, 2020, until further notice. Full closures apply to Belfountain, Island Lake, Terra Cotta, Rattray Marsh, Meadowvale, Limehouse, Silver Creek and Upper Credit Conservation Areas and the Cheltenham Badlands. They also include Ken Whillans Resource Management Area and Elora Cataract Trailway, and all other CVC-owned or operated properties and trails. Until further notice, no members of the public, including Conservation Parks members, may use or enter CVC conservation area grounds or trails. CVC staff will be actively monitoring properties and trails for compliance with the closure notice. Authorized staff will issue tickets for trespassing and will be monitoring parking violations. We have decided to close our administration offices and buildings to the public effective until further notice. Our staff can be reached by email or phone during this time.”
Phone: 905-670-1615, or toll-free 1-800-668-5557
Conservation Areas in Southern Ontario
“Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) conservation areas and trails are closed to the public until further notice. Barriers and signs are at property entrances. Even if a barrier is not in place, the property is closed. Washrooms and playground equipment at conservation areas are closed until further notice. We are limiting in-person contacts, to prevent the possible spread of this virus, but our staff continue to be available, by phone and email, to help you.”
Phone: 519-235-2610, or toll-free 1-888-286-2610
“All our Conservation Areas and trails are now closed to the public until further notice. The Maitland Conservation Administration Centre and the Falls Reserve Conservation Area office have been closed to the public until 8:30 am on April 1, 2020. Our staff continue to be available by telephone and email. Open our staff directory to find contact information. A drop off box has been left at the front door of the Administration Centre.”
“In order to comply with the March 30, 2020 provincial declaration to close all communal shared, public or private, outdoor recreational amenities – all KCCA properties are closed.
Starting today April 1, 2020 barriers and signs denoting the closure of KCCA properties will be placed at property entrances. Even if a barrier is not in place, all KCCA property is closed to the public until further notice. The best way that you can support staff at this time – and ensure we are all sitting around a campfire as soon as possible – is to follow the advice of Southwestern Public Health, practice social distancing, and stay home.”
“Please be advised that in light of the social and business related impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, GSCA has made the difficult decision to close all properties and trails to all visitors, including membership pass holders as well as day-use visitors, until further notice. No pedestrian or vehicular traffic will be permitted within Grey Sauble Conservation properties during this period of time, and those who enter will be trespassing. Closure of all GSCA facilities to the public, as well as the cancellation of face-to-face meetings, events and programs. All GSCA buildings are closed effective immediately.”
“Effective March 26, all NPCA Conservation Areas will be closed to the public indefinitely, this includes passive use like walking, hiking, and birdwatching. All npca offices and conservation area facilities and buildings are closed until further notice.”
“As a result of Provincial direction to close non-essential business operations to support efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, HCA has made the difficult decision to CLOSE all Hamilton Conservation Authority areas to the public, including membership pass holders, effective Wednesday March 25, 2020. No day use is permitted in our areas until further notice and those who enter will be trespassing. As of Tuesday, March 17, 2020 the Main Office of the Hamilton Conservation Authority will be CLOSED to the public but will continue to operate through phone and email communications.”
“As of 4:30 p.m. on Monday, March 23, 2020 the following Long Point Region Conservation Authority facilities are closed to help limit the possible spread of COVID-19: LPRCA Administration Office, Conservation Education Centre, Waterford Workshop, Backus Heritage Conservation Area, Deer Creek Conservation Area, Haldimand Conservation Area, Norfolk Conservation Area, Waterford North Conservation Area. Long Point Region Conservation Authority will be closing the Administration Office, the Conservation Education Centre at Backus Heritage Conservation Area and the Waterford Workshop to the public as of 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.”
“Please be advised that effective March 18th, 2020, the LTVCA Administration Office at 100 Thames St. in Chatham and the Resource Centre at Longwoods Road Conservation Area are closed to the public.”
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“We have decided to close all Conservation Halton parks indefinitely. This includes Kelso, Mountsberg, Crawford Lake, Rattlesnake Point, Hilton Falls and Robert Edmondson. All sites will be monitored for illegal access and trespassers will be charged.”
“Effective March 23, all Grand River Parks will be closed to visitors, including membership pass holders as well as day-use visitors, until April 6, 2020. As of March 18, all GRCA offices and facilities within Grand River Parks are closed to the public until Monday, April 6 to help prevent the possible spread of this virus. For up-to-date information on access to Grand River Parks during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit www.grandriver.ca/COVID19.”
Phone: 519-621-2761, or toll-free 1-866-900-4722
“Please postpone your use of the Bruce Trail for walks or hikes until further notice, to minimize the spread or contraction of COVID-19. We realize that we cannot close-off the Bruce Trail. We cannot bar access to all trailheads nor enforce closures. We can and do, however, urge everyone to please stay away from the Bruce Trail until further notice.”