This proposal notice has been updated on April 29, 2022 to advise the public that this file is still under active review. The ministry is reviewing the comments it has received to date. The original proposal date and comment period have not been altered.
April 29, 2022
This consultation was open from:
June 11, 2021
to July 26, 2021
We are proposing regulatory and policy changes that would enable continued use of existing private recreation camps in provincial parks and conservation reserves, while maintaining ecological integrity.
Purpose of proposed regulatory and policy changes
Private recreation camps were established on public lands across Ontario from the 1920s to the 1970s. There is evidence to suggest that some camps were first authorized in the early 1900s. The ministry continues to manage 389 private recreation camps that are authorized under the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006 (PPCRA) and is proposing regulatory and policy changes to provide more certainty for the continued use of these existing private recreation camps in provincial parks and conservation reserves, while maintaining ecological integrity.
As part of our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, the government is committed to protecting natural areas, supporting conservation efforts and promoting the importance of healthy, natural spaces for future users to enjoy.
However, the existing policy framework, including the PPCRA and related regulations and policies, have certain restrictions placed on the Minister’s ability to renew these permits and issue permits to new individuals.
We are proposing to:
- change some of these restrictions
- set up a new and improved process for managing private recreational camps within our parks
We are proposing regulatory and policy changes to:
- allow for the potential continued use of existing private recreation camps (sometimes known as hunt camps) located on Crown land in provincial parks and conservation reserves
- potentially support existing access through provincial parks and conservation reserves to adjacent privately owned land
Minister’s authority to grant permissions under the PPCRA
The Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006 (PPCRA) enables the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks to grant permission for third parties to use or occupy land in a provincial park or conservation reserve.
This permission is granted by an authorization under the PPCRA, including a land use permit, a licence of occupation, or a lease.
Private recreation camp authorizations are currently reviewed and typically reissued on a 1 to 5-year term. By policy, the use of some private recreation camps is planned to be phased out at the end of the current authorization holder’s life.
Until recently, the Minister’s authority under the PPCRA to grant permission to use the land for private non-commercial purposes was generally limited to extending the term of an existing authorization holder. The Minister did not have the ability to issue authorizations to new individuals.
However, recent amendments to the PPCRA included a change to these provisions and the PPCRA now enables the Minister to issue new authorizations for existing private non-commercial uses such as private recreation camps where circumstances prescribed by regulations are met.
The proposed regulatory change would prescribe circumstances in this regard and enable the Minister to issue such authorizations with respect to existing private recreation camps.
Ontario’s private recreation camps
Private recreation camps were established on public lands across Ontario from the 1920s to the 1970s. There is evidence to suggest that some camps were first authorized in the early 1900s.
Private recreation camps were originally authorized by what was then called the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests for use by groups of interested hunters and, in some cases, anglers.
MECP continues to manage 389 private recreation camps that are authorized under the PPCRA. They remain across:
- 51 provincial parks
- 56 conservation reserves
Most of these camps pre-date the establishment of the protected area and are still used for non-commercial wildlife viewing and hunting and angling where regulations allow and where necessary authority has been granted.
Private recreation camps do not include cottage lots located in:
- Algonquin Provincial Park
- Rondeau Provincial Park
Proposed regulatory changes
We are proposing regulatory changes to O. Reg. 347/07 and 319/07 under the PPCRA that would describe the circumstances under which the Minister may grant permission for the use and occupation for private, non-commercial purposes related to some existing buildings or structures, existing uses, and occupations of land as further described below.
The proposed regulation would enable the Minister to allow the use and occupation of land in a provincial park or conservation reserve related to:
- existing private recreation camp structures in provincial parks or conservation reserves
- existing structures used to access existing private recreation camps including docks, bridges, and other water crossings
- existing structures used to access privately owned land immediately adjacent to a provincial park or conservation reserve boundary including docks, bridges and other water crossings
Existing private recreation camps include:
- 389 camps currently authorized to use and occupy land in provincial parks and conservation reserves
- a small number of camps (less than 10) where authorizations have terminated or expired without renewal since January 1, 2015 but the recreation camp structures remain
Most of these authorizations expired without renewal due to limits on the Minister’s authority under the PPCRA to issue new occupational authority for existing private recreation camps.
Existing access structures would include all those built or erected as of January 1, 2021 and that still exist as of the date of application for authorization.
Proposed regulatory amendments would enable the Minister to grant occupational authority to new individuals for existing private recreation camps. This would allow individuals to:
- potentially pass on existing private recreation camp structures to new individuals
- request a new authorization from the Minister to occupy the land
The proposed regulatory amendments would also enable the potential authorization of existing docks, bridges, and water crossings located in provincial parks and conservation reserves and used to access adjacent privately owned land.
The proposed regulatory amendments would not grant the Minister the authority to:
- establish any new private recreation camps or access structures
- create any new private uses of land in provincial parks or conservation reserves
We are proposing additional regulatory amendments to address minor operational and enforcement challenges related to the management of provincial parks and conservation reserves. These include:
- reflecting the new “Commercial day-use vehicle permit” as one of the several types of vehicle permits
- addressing changes to the requirement for displaying of vehicle permits based on the ability for park staff to verify vehicle permits by other means (e.g. verify through a permit holders’ license plate)
- addressing health and safety concerns with regards to wildland fire prevention, safe drinking water, and the dumping of sewage and grey water in non-designated sites
There is no anticipated impact to business from this proposal.
Proposed policy changes
We are proposing the following policy changes to private recreation camps in provincial parks and conservation reserves:
Eliminating phase out for private recreation camps
We are proposing to change existing policy to phase out the use of some private recreation camps in:
- the Ontario Parks Permitted Uses Amendment (Phase Out) Policy
- 11 provincial park management plans, including the Temagami Area Park Management Plan (see Consultation Document - Provincial Park Management Plans Impact by Proposal for the complete list of relevant park management plans)
Potential use of these private recreation camps (38 camps in 15 provincial parks) would no longer be restricted by these policies to the lifetime of the current authorized user.
Private recreation camp transfers
The regulation would not restrict the issuance of authorizations for private recreation camps to existing holders. Therefore, new individuals could be authorized to occupy and use existing private recreation camps. The proposed policy would establish a process for requests made by existing authorization holders to potentially terminate their authorization in order for new individuals to seek authorization of the private recreation camp or access structure. This process would allow current users the potential to pass on the private recreation camp structures to future users, subject to MECP review and approval.
Occupational authority instrument and length of term
We are proposing a policy of issuing 20-year licences of occupation for private recreation camps rather than the current approach of short-term (i.e. 1- to 5-year) land use permits.
In some cases, applicants would continue to only be issued short-term land use permits. This may include, but not be limited to, scenarios such as:
- where a private recreation camp is located in an area of ongoing land claim or treaty negotiations
- to provide time for the private recreation camp user to meet conditions required for a longer-term authorization
Rents, fees, and other debts
Rent payable by private recreation camp authorization holders would provide a fair and reasonable rate of return to the Crown for the use and occupation of lands in a provincial park or conservation reserve.
Rents are based on market value of the land and would be kept current through practices such as indexation and periodic land appraisals.
2021 Crown rental rates for private, non-commercial accommodation is:
- 6% of market value of the land for a licence of occupation
- 5% of market value of the land for a land use permit
For the purpose of calculating annual rent for private recreation camps, market value has been frozen at 1998 estimates. This freeze would continue for the remainder of 2021.
Administrative fees would continue to be charged for the issuance of new instruments. Municipal taxes or payments in lieu of taxes also apply.
Conditions of land use
The proposed private recreation camp policy would include limits and conditions of use that align with the ministry’s current approach to the management of existing private recreation camps.
It would guide the:
- issuance and conditions in the land use permits or licences of occupation
- consideration of work permit applications under O. Reg. 345/07.
The proposed approach would continue to provide flexibility for existing use and enjoyment of the land while prohibiting any significant future expansion or change in the current use of private recreation camps.
MECP will consider any feedback received during this consultation when deciding on regulatory amendments and final policy.
Decision notices and the final policy will be posted on Ontario’s Regulatory Registry and the Environmental Registry of Ontario.
Additional details can be found in the attached document: Consultation Document: Private Recreation Camps in Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves.
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Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.
Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.
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300 Water St, Peterborough
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