Lynn and Don Morley both retired in 2011 and looked forward to their leisurely summers at their Garden Lake campsite.”we have camped at Garden Lake for the last 45 years with family and extended family Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and friends. Our children grew up enjoying everything about Garden Lake learning to swim, fish, catch frogs, learning how to make that special s’more. We also enjoyed bird hunting in the fall at Garden Lake.” said Lynne Morley.
That could all change for the Morley’s and several hundred others who have paid a seasonal fee to park their trailers and create a make-shift “cottage” on four different crown owned campground aites for the last 20 years.
As SaultOnline.com reported , the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry plan on closing the campgrounds at Garden Lake, Ranger Lake, Tapp’s Landing campground which is located approximately 34 km north of the Town of Thessalon at Tunnel Lake.
LIFE AT CAMP (submitted by numerous campers from the four campgrounds)
The MNRF claim that several significant issues of non-compliance with the Terms and Conditions of the permits which have now expired. 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.
Representative from the four campgrounds organized a meeting with MNRF officials last week with Algoma Manitoulin MPP Mike Mantha attending. The closed meeting resulted in hopes for more information meetings and to explore other options than closing the campgrounds.
The group might be out of luck however, the crux of the problem seems to centre around aging septic systems at the campground sites. The Ministry of Environment conducted inspections of the systems last year.
“MOECC has issued an inspection report with associated recommendations, which MNRF must comply with” May said. The cost of replacing the septic units are estimated at $25,000 per site. “MNRF has decided to close the campgrounds and restore the areas back to a more natural environment.”
That is unacceptable to the campground users who claim the MNRF has not given the users a chance to look at another option to keep the campgrounds going.
“We are pleading with the ministry to at least give us a chance to self regulate and resolve/restore the issues at hand. ” said Robert Nevitt who started an online petition that has attracted close to 500 signatures. “This is one of the few affordable campgrounds left in northern Ontario costing only $500 per year comparing. to $2000-$3000 annually for their lots and it’s still a struggle to get a spot their” said Nevittt. “We love camping there with our elderly parents, family, and grandchildren spending quality time together. No phones, television and we get a chance to teach younger generation what its like to live without an xbox etc.” said another camper, Cathy Gullery
The group including the LUP holder claim the MNRF were aware of other structures built on certain sites such as roof overhangs on some of the trailers and decks and all were approved. The septic system is the responsibility of the MNRF who own the crown land.
“My specific camp had an inspection from the MNR who had us make changes which we did this was around 7-8 yrs ago. We have always had a list of rules at the Tapps / tunnel lake site which we followed.” said Kim Dinsmore .
The campgrounds become a second home and community for the families that have camped at the site for decades.
“There are a number of other opportunities in the area for the public to enjoy camping, which also offers accommodations for trailers with 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 MNRF responded.