MNRF closing campgrounds leaves many asking why?

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Users of several small area campgrounds are up in arms about the MNR putting an end to their use of camp sites in the district.

Residents who used Tapps Landing(Tunnel Lake), Garden Lake, Ranger Lake and Lawrence Lake campgrounds for seasonal recreational use were told they had to remove all their belongings from the campsite locations by May 31 of this year.

The campgrounds are located on Crown Land and have been leased to users over the last few decades. Users were notified in May of 2016 but an interim agreement left the campers on site while the Ministry decided the future use of the land.

“Approximately 20 years ago, the MNRF entered into Land Use Permits (LUPs) with two contractors to manage and maintain Crown Land access points. These permits expired last year and are not being renewed” said Bill May, Resource Management Supervisor Sault Ste Marie District, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Inspection of the lands in question was conducted last year according to a letter to the tenants of the campsites. The MNRF found several issues including construction of some buildings and improvements to specific sites without the approval of the MNRF. Other concerns were the improper handling of waste and sewage, the letter stated.

MNRF is aware of environmental concerns at these campgrounds, the most concerning being the improper handling of raw sewage and waste, which is also a violation of the Terms and Conditions of the LUP.  MOECC has issued an inspection report with associated recommendations, which MNRF must comply with tenants were told.

“There have been significant issues of non-compliance with the Terms and Conditions of the permits which have now expired. The construction of attached decks, sunrooms, outhouses and sheds to a number of the camping-trailers at these campsites is a violation of the Terms and Conditions of the LUP.” said May in an email to SaultOnline.com

That news isn’t sitting well with hundreds of campers who have used the sites for years with little to no major problems according to members of the group who have started an online petition and set up a meeting with MNRF Wednesday afternoon at the Church street regional office.

Many of the campsite users now face the expense of removing structures at the site.

The group wants the opportunity to change and correct some of the issues that have been brought to their attention before closing their “summer homes”. They believe the MNRF is acting unfairly and organizing a grass roots approach to keep the campsites going.  Many of the campers posting comments on the petition site claiming the lack of affordable camp sites available in the area.

“There are a number of other opportunities in the area for the public to enjoy camping, which also offers accommodations for trailers (e.g. over 8 private campgrounds and one Provincial Park within 100 km of Sault Ste. Marie and 32 private campgrounds within 100 km of Thessalon).  Crown land camping is also available in and around the area of these campgrounds where individuals may stay for up to 21 days without approval from MNRF.”

The group is also claiming that the fees collected for the use at the campsites likely total over $200,000.   “The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) charges a minimal fee for the Land Use Permit for these commercial campgrounds.” May said, ” This permit allows the operator to manage the campground and in turn charge a fee to the tenants at their discretion.  Any additional fees charged to the tenants are collected and used by the LUP holder”

The campsite groups hopes to convince the MNRF to continue operating the land as campsites though May says the MNRF have other plans for the land.  “The campgrounds will be closed to overnight camping for the 2017 camping season due to clean up work. After the site is restored to its natural state, MNRF will review other options for the use of the land.”

The group’s petition can be found HERE

25 COMMENTS

  1. Time to move on these sites became , a village rather than camp sites . I camped there for over 25 yrs . Both ends of tunnel had generators running 24 / 7 so much four rustic and peaceful , let alone the four wheelers running everywhere !

  2. The campgrounds at Ranger lake are disgusting and borderline full size buildings. Lots of people pay a lot of money to own a camp on Ranger lake. Pay taxes. The operators( Don scott) has run both into the ground along with the dump and accommodates who he feels like. I for one say shut those down and sorry about your luck. I am only speaking on the Ranger campgrounds. Never been to any other. But as a camp owner on Ranger I’ll be happy to see them go. Maybe the mnr can look at restoring the public boat launch that the campers have destroyed using them as personal docks.

    • You’re damn right Don Scott only accommodates who he wants, and City Transit is one of them. Funny how he went from working out at the grave yard and now has 100k per year + benefits and pension job at the City. Hmm, must’ve known someone much! He’s useless and shouldn’t even have that job.

  3. Hi everyone. I have been a long term “camper” at Haskins landing..(the far end of tunnel lake) for 40 + years. We were there when it was 21 days and when they changed it over to leased .My family and i as well as many friends new and old have also enjoyed “camping” there.It has been and always will be crown land..so if u start using it as “Your” property YOU are in the wrong.no permanent structures, no cutting of trees..unless they are an iminent danger to the public.shared outhouses which are properly maintained and pumped yearly.The lease holders know the rules…as it is stated in there contract…pushing the limits to make money has put us all in jeopardy of losing our summer “camping” PRIVILEDGES.I also believe there are many people upset that they cant even get a weekend spot for camping as most of the lots have been turned into “permanent” camp sites.Dont forget us northerners always end up taking a backseat to someone from southern ontario that wants to use our resources.Don’t ruin our fun over “Selfish Stupidity”.

    • Well being that your LUP is the very same as ours was at the other end of Tunnel I have to wonder why you feel this way? All buildings on this end of Tunnel were requested in writing with diagrams to the LUP who then forward these to the MNR . Who then in turn said yes or no. We have had permission to put up temporary structures and have had yearly inspections by the MNR. Many of which I was present for . It was always said that if there were any issues we would be notified and only once can I say I was . We have a boat launch often use by locals and campers or ppl wanting to fish etc . We have watched as these same ppl left vehicle doors open and taken care of this for them. Made sure they made it off the lake or gone out looking for them. Saved a few at times. We have lots to rent and have ppl come and go. We have cover for our fire pits and are covered when we leave. We don’t cut trees unless they are hazardous and we have cleaned up the land from the previous 21 day turn around parties and garbage. Being on the high way side of the Lake we get many more ppl coming through. We support our area businesses like the Trading Post So tell me what exactly are we doing wrong again.

  4. The people who are putting forth the petition need to do a thorough investigation to get to the truth of the matter. There are members of the civil service who are less than ethical and honest.

  5. All that land is owned by the crown not you the people. If they don’t want anybody using it that is their prerogative. It’s like if you own a home and are renting it out to people. If you want to move into the house you give them notice that you want it back they have to vacate it because they don’t own it you do.

  6. In regard to the article there are a lot of discrepancies

    —Residents who used Tapps Landing(Tunnel Lake), Garden Lake, Ranger Lake and Lawrence Lake campgrounds for seasonal recreational use were told they had to remove all their belongings from the campsite locations by May 31 of this year.

    —We were not notified in any way or form about this to date Jan. 25 2017

    The campgrounds are located on Crown Land and have been leased to users over the last few decades. Users were notified in May of 2016 but an interim agreement left the campers on site while the Ministry decided the future use of the land.

    We were not notified still to this date Jan. 25, 2017

    –These permits expired last year and are not being renewed” said Bill May, Resource Management Supervisor Sault Ste Marie District, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

    –We were not informed about any renewal permits expiring or any infractions or new government rules in effect for garden lake or other campsites or an expiring permit.

    Inspection of the lands in question was conducted last year according to a letter to the tenants of the campsites.
    We did not receive a letter ever and were camping in October when ministry of environment showed up and conducted a surprise inspection and we still have not heard what the result were to this date Jan. 25,2017

    May says the MNRF have other plans for the land

    What are the plans, make it crown land again and have all kinds of garbage and destruction in these campgrounds like it was 10 years ago, when people left all kinds of junk around in the bush, dumping garbage because there is no dump there anymore, leaving broken items and whatever on the sites, breaking beer bottles everywhere, destroying trees, and who will clean this up and maintain the park then?

    –The campgrounds will be closed to overnight camping for the 2017 camping season due to clean up work.
    –Why close for a whole year,
    What work needs to be done that takes a whole year?
    We have to clean all our sites of all our belongings by May 31, 2017

  7. Time to move on and take your junk! It’s public land not yours to abuse. You build your fences dump your dirty waste water for a couple hundred dollars a year. Go camp at Pancake and pay the $1800 and play by the rules like the rest of us

    • We do pay $960 a year and had rules of what we could build and what we could not. We followed the rules. Do your research first . These are not squatters these are paying tenants generating around $200 000 a year. According to the Land use permit act we were allowed to build with permission from the MNR which we had in writing. Now they want the land back .. fine but don’t make is sound as if we did something wrong. They want to push this revenue from the LUP holders to Parks Canada . It is much more than simply you built a building so you have to leave. The contracts were reviewed and renewed every four years without issue. So how could these infractions not have been missed all these years by the MNR?

  8. I was there also before these squatters moved in and took ALL the good sites and left the ones away from the beach 3-4 rows back for anyone else. They think they own this land because they dump there grey water into the ground. I can’t even put my boat into the water without these people coming over sticking there noise into my business.They build THERE own outhouses cut trees and do as they want on THERE land. They should be made to move there junk off crown land every 21 days the same as all others.

    • This is not the squatters on crown land these are leased lands and have been on private leases for over 30 years . Not a 21 day camping. These are not our outhouses but the built by the MNR and maintained by a lease owner. Boat launch is and always has been fee and we actually help most who come . Not sure where you are have been but it is not on Tunnel Lake.

  9. I think it is extremely unfair of the MNR to close these campgrounds… What do they think is going to happen? They will become the places they were before the became organized campgrounds. Because we all know that the MNR is not going to police these areas daily. There will be garbage, empty alcohol containers, and other waste left behind by people. Most of the campers at these campgrounds are responsible stewards of the land and respect the environment. If people were dumping raw sewage and waste in the ground they are the ones who should be prosecuted and evicted for polluting the earth, but when this questions was brought up to the MNR their answer was, that they were not going to pursue it.. When has anyone ever known the MNR not o purse a violation??? Something more is going on here in my opinion..Give us a chance to address these so called violations and be part of the solution.

      • they are closing them to the public . They are creating a berm on the road and filling in the outhouses built by the MNR. The boat launches will also be unavailable .

    • what about my right to camp there if people are using it as a permanent campground and building structures where i like to but my tent … thats the issue its for public use not a specific few …

      • this is leased land not 21 day camping . And there are sites to put your tent up. Totally different situation than what you are imagining .

  10. the truth behind this it that over the Last 20 + years the MNR has inspected and approved some of these buildings. They have never given any indication after yearly inspections that there was ever an issue with septic or other stated infractions. If there were infractions we were never made aware of them by the MNR or by our leasers/ managers. We would like to address these so called infractions as well as correct any . Some of the so called septic issues they have state are not valid. The MNR did not do a thorough investigation. Not all the sites have the same issues and lumping us all together is not right either.

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