The Ontario Government is proposing to extend cottage leases in Algonquin for another 21 years!  This proposal needs a rigorous individual environmental assessment. The deadline for comments on this bump up request is May 31!

Despite acknowledging the ecological incompatibility of private cottages in a Public Park and publishing their own reports confirming that cottages present a challenge to ecological integrity, the Ontario government is proposing to extend these leases to 2038.

Their environmental assessment recently concluded no significant net negative environmental effects were associated with the proposal.  We believe that this assessment category is inadequate for such a complex and important issue and the assessment process and conclusion is flawed.

The chosen Category B assessment assumes a potential for low to medium negative environmental effects, and/or public or agency concern.

We disagree with both the level of the assessment and how it was carried out.

MNRs own reports conclude the “cumulative impacts of cottages and their uses contribute to the pressures on the park’s ecosystems. Their effects represent an additional challenge to the maintenance and restoration of ecological integrity of the park as defined in the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006

The effects of cottages also interact with the many other activities in the park, like logging, leading to cumulative impacts.

Extending the leases is a profound change in policy on many fronts.  It contradicts the 1998 management plan and the unanimous decision made by the Ontario Parks Board of Directors after a thorough review.

This is a highly contentious issue generating much public debate and concern.  There have been many media reports and the Ontario Government has received many comments on this proposal.

The category B assessment, in addition to being the wrong tool, has also been poorly applied.  There is no rationale given for the abrupt change in long-standing policy.  There is a profound lack of consideration for ecological integrity, the priority mandate for Ontario Parks. The assessment itself appears to lack rigour and coherence.  It remarks on lack of data, but then makes decisions in spite of this lack.  The assessment proposes inadequate mitigation measures, never even considering that some cottages on the most sensitive sites would need to be removed.

We are therefore making a request that the project be subjected to a Category D or individual Environmental Assessment.  It is a complex and contentious proposal with the potential for high negative environmental impacts.  It deserves a more rigorous analysis.

What you can do: 

1. Read our background materials here and here.

2. By MAY 31 send your request for a proper environmental assessment for extending Algonquin cottage leases by mail to:

The Honourable Glen R. Murray
Minister of the Environment and Climate Change
Ferguson Block, 11th Floor
77 Wellesley St. W.
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 2T5


Jim Murphy
Park Planner
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry,
Ontario Parks Algonquin Zone
451 Arrowhead Park Road,
Huntsville, Ontario
P1H 2J4