Imagine if 13 million visitors…

Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area

By Stéphane Comeault

This spring, Parks Canada and Ontario Parks teamed up to develop a new campaign to encourage positive visitor behaviours at Ontario’s national and provincial parks. The #ForTheLoveOfParks campaign strives to inspire visitors to enjoy these amazing places responsibly, for the enjoyment of everyone.

Nearly 13 million visitors enjoyed Ontario’s national and provincial parks in 2020, with the pandemic driving record numbers at many sites. Unfortunately, instances of unfavourable behaviours also increased, which included higher instances of illegal dumping, littering, vandalism, and aggressive interactions with park staff.

As we were gearing up for an even busier 2021 season, Parks Canada and Ontario Parks teamed up to launch a joint #ForTheLoveOfParks campaign, with a simple goal: to educate this season’s visitors on how to enjoy these beautiful places responsibly, while leaving them in a state that could be enjoyed by future visitors as well.

With many of these places – particularly in southern Ontario – seeing record numbers of visitors, we encouraged Canadians to plan ahead by visiting the specific site’s website to familiarize themselves with the rules or best practices. Knowing what to expect – for example long wait times, or the possibility of being turned away on particularly busy days – will not only reduce frustrations, but also lead to friendly interactions with Park staff.

One of the main rules that many adventurers live by is “pack out what you pack in,” which is important in the sense that any garbage or packaging that you bring into the site or backcountry should be taken off-site for disposal. This contributes to both aesthetics (less litter), and safety at our sites (less animal attractants). But it’s equally important to “pack out ONLY what you pack in.” For instance, wild flowers, rocks from the beach, or bark from birch trees should remain in those spaces. Imagine if each of the 13 million visitors last year took a natural souvenir home with them – what would the parks look like for future generations of visitors?!

In case you missed it, the campaign video can be see here. We encourage you to share it with your colleagues, friends, and family; and to be part of the solution!

All indications so far suggest that 2021 is another record-breaking year for visitation, which makes these messages more important than ever. Let’s encourage each other to all do our parts to protect these beautiful places - #ForTheLoveOfParks.


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