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Early Batchawana Bay Park closure 'makes no sense' (18 photos)

Saturday, September 15, 2012   by: Darren Taylor

About 40 Batchawana Bay area residents, joined by Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha, went on what might be called a protest walk along the trail near the white-sand beach of Batchawana Bay Provincial Park Saturday morning.

As earlier reported by SooToday.com, Batchawana Bay Provincial Park was closed over the Labour Day weekend.

That’s much earlier than the usual Thanksgiving closure in October, to the dismay of area residents who enjoy the beach and surrounding area, and business operators seeking tourists to come and eat, stay overnight and enjoy the beach in brilliant fall colours.

There was also a late opening for the Park this season, which usually opens over the Victoria Day weekend, but this year did not open until the first week of June.

The group gathered this morning outside the Park’s gate, which is held together by a small chain near a “Closed” sign.

After signing a petition asking Minister of Natural Resources Michael Gravelle to officially reopen the park until Thanksgiving, and a First Nations drum ceremony, the group took their walk.

The gate is easy to walk around, the beach and trail easily accessible on foot, but visitors have to park their vehicles on the shoulders of Highway 17 instead of inside Batchawana’s parking lot - a turn off for tourists.

Mantha told SooToday.com: “I’m here supporting the community, and I am requesting Minister Gravelle to reconsider the decision made here. This is a small community, and they need every possible venue to bring in tourism dollars, and this park is one of those venues beneficial to the economy of this area.”

The MNR has said the closure of the park over Labour Day weekend was to avoid duplication of services, pointing out there are tourist stops 10 kilometres north and south of Batchawana Bay.

This year’s opening and closing dates for Batchawana are clearly posted in MNR literature, but Mantha says those dates are unfair.

“The government has made a wrong decision, this park attracts business.”

“Just up the road from here, less than a kilometre, there’s a restaurant, a camping area, and the operators benefit from the tourists that stop here. So by saying there’s a provincial park 10 kilometres down the road is the problem - its 10 whole kilometres away.”

Retired secondary school teacher Bob Moore, who now lives year-round at Batchawana Bay, told SooToday.com: “This irks me and something has to be done. I started writing a lot of letters, through frustration.”

“The message is all around us. The fall colour is coming out, this is a prime time for people from the Sault to enjoy an accessible beach, which has been nominated as one of the top 10 beaches in Ontario, and to close the gates to cars is really ludicrous when you should be able to drive in here and use this beach.”
 
“All we really want, as a group of residents, is to have those gates reopened, as simple as that, until the end of the summer season, in October. The fact that the Superintendent of the Park himself (Chris Caldwell) said to keep the  Park open is a duplication of services, is hard to comprehend.”
 
“Pancake Bay is a wonderful park, but people driving by Batchawana Bay Provincial Park, they can see exactly what they are going to get, its easily visible from the highway, whereas with Pancake, you have to drive in and explore.”
 
“I’m concerned about the fall tourist traffic going by, I want them to have the opportunity to get into the park, and there are local residents here who go for a walk every day, who now have to park up here on the shoulders and walk in.”
 
“This year, this park was added to two others, to make three day parks with a limited summer season, out of a total of 13 day parks in the province, so a very small minority of parks have a limited season, we are now a part of that minority.” 
 
“It makes no sense.”
 
Mantha has written a letter to Minister of Natural Resources Micheal Gravelle requesting the reopening of Batchawana Bay Provincial Park, and is awaiting an answer.

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Comments
16
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of SooToday.com. If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
frauleinbroomhilda 9/15/2012 5:28:09 PM Report

Who's it hurting if you leave the park open for another month or so. Let residents that enjoy the walk through the park and TOURISTS which we desperately need to keep coming here to our parks enjoy the beauty and fall colours of Ontario. What's next Gravelle...Chippewa Falls? Shame on you MNR!!!!!!
lowla 9/15/2012 5:54:19 PM Report

Batchewana is my favorite beach in this area. You can not compare Batchewana to Pancake, they are totally different. I like to go there in the fall when the leaves are changing and there are less people. Today would have been a perfect day to visit there
geterdun 9/15/2012 6:30:25 PM Report

cut backs....... to pay for the 18 billion they blew in the last eight years....thanks to the goverment for thinking about themselves first....
Roscue 9/15/2012 7:12:56 PM Report

It is no secret that the superintendent could care less what goes on in the area. He has ticked enough people off over the years, sending them elsewhere to spend their money. It makes his job a lot easier when there is no one around. Perhaps his pay check should stop when services are suspended.
Pudelpointer 9/15/2012 8:40:46 PM Report

This is just the start - wait until they start closing MNR offices and parks permanently.
Cormorant 9/15/2012 8:45:45 PM Report

What the MNR needs to do here is to open up the lines of communication between themselves and the people. No government bureaucracy has a corner on all the great ideas. The people who use this park aren't idiots. Allow them to have input, they'll have some good ideas. For example, if the MNR is determined to gate this park, why not relocate the main gate further into the park blocking the access to the main road to the west. A second gate could block off the gravel road access to the east. This way tourists could still drive in and access the washrooms, part of the beach and the large paved parking lot owned by the Ministry of Transport. And the highway shoulders would then be free of parked cars. Simply put, solutions come about when you talk with the public and not to the public.
the_mage 9/15/2012 9:36:31 PM Report

Welcome to Sault Ste. Marie...
RLE 9/15/2012 11:00:06 PM Report

From all the moaning and groaning maybe the name should be changed to "Bitchawana"
lodgekeepers 9/15/2012 11:26:16 PM Report

What a beautiful day for a stroll in the park. Thanks Bob for organizing this walk. Michael Mantha, our MPP, drove over from Elliot Lake on this Saturday morning to show support to the wonderful Batchawana Bay Community. What a great example of a man who cares about his constituents.
So what does the MNR do now? Every indication is that the entire north shore of Lake Superior (let's say about 99% of it) want the park open for the duration of the season. We do not care if services are duplicated, or if summer students have left, if your reasons for closing are not financial then leave the park open. If your reasons are financial, show us the accounting expenditures that are spent to maintain that particular park. I'd be willing to bet that the MNR cannot even produce that.
This debate is sad because it did not need to happen in the first place. The issue, for some, is becoming which park is better, Pancake or Batchawana, and that is not the problem. Both are beautiful, both are two of the best parks in Ontario(i've been to the ones in S. Ontario), and both are very unique from one another. One is an overnight campground, and the other is a day park suitable for the traveller stopping for a picnic lunch or a quick stroll or swim on the beach.
If the government personel who make these decisions do not respond quickly,and drop this gate in response to the overwhelming public desire to do so, then every elected MPP or MP in this land of ours should re-consider why they took the oath of office. Who is running this country? These middle managers of the various ministries, or the elected officials representing the will of the people?
I kind of want the will of the people reflected in decision making.
The writing is on the wall folks at the MNR. Respond appropriately. You can admit that you were wrong in your decision making and just quietly drop the gate.
If you do not, you are showing that you are clearly incapable of managing land resources that belong to the people of Ontario and Canada.
Does anyone else think it is time for an inquiry into how we ensure that these public lands are accessible to all Canadians and our guests in the future?

On a positive note, the fall colours are just starting - head on up the north shore of Lake Superior, park at the gate of Batchawana Park, walk in, and see for yourself.
If you need a rest stop, and you do not want to use one of the outhouses at Chippewa Falls or Pancake Bay try any one of the many private enterprises along the way. They all have invested in flush toilets,and running hot and cold water.
cheers
Frank the Voyageur
mvnnth 9/16/2012 8:08:40 AM Report

The expressions of concern and disappointment, demonstrated yesterday, might have had an effect on the decision taken with regard to the opening and closing dates if they had been made to the Ministry at the time the dates were made public. It is now a fait accompli.
Snowdon 9/16/2012 8:44:16 AM Report

Hope to hear more about this pressing news story.
nana4j's 9/16/2012 9:24:16 AM Report

This is all about money!!The staff have been reduced,therefore who will clean the washrooms at Batchawana, who will empty the garbage and who will collect the park fees??Thus the gates are closed.But at Pancake,management can man the gate and collect a higher fee for entry to the park.My season's pass that was supposed to be good from April 1 to Oct.31 ,now, does not allow me access to the park of MY choice.When is the next election?
sumosah 9/16/2012 9:51:38 AM Report

NANA you hit hr nail ont the head its all about money and for the people who paid for their provincial park pass unless it is an environmental reason they should be closed- they ALL should be open and closed within the same time since the passes are not park specific...and sorry of the MNR is going to be busy for hunting season ... albeit another reason more people for that season are coming into our region they should be opened and showcased to further promote them ....
thedude 9/16/2012 5:28:36 PM Report

Yes frustrating times, I wonder thou... how many of the 40 "park users" have ever paid the daily park fee? Let's remember many of the provinces parks are closed at this time of year, this is not unheard of. Not to mention if it was cold and rainy no one would be talking about this.
Roscue 9/16/2012 9:37:46 PM Report

Who would you be refering to when you say the 40 park users?
bow buddy 9/17/2012 7:45:06 AM Report

I believe he is referring to all of the cars lined up dangerously along side the highway all summer long. Guess you people can park there again!
Comments
16
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of SooToday.com. If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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