Lighthouse, parks and municipal property off limits for camping

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GORDON/BARRIE ISLAND – While sympathetic to those visitors to Manitoulin Island who have difficulty finding places to camp and the need for more access to campground areas on Western Manitoulin, the reeve of Gordon/Barrie Island acknowledged almost two weeks ago that the municipality has posted no camping or overnight parking signs at the Janet Head Lighthouse and any other parks or municipal property.

“Yes, we have issued a notice about no camping or overnight parking,” Lee Hayden, reeve of Gordon/Barrie Island told the Recorder late last week. “This issue came up when we received a report about people camping at the Janet Head Lighthouse property.”

Reeve Hayden stressed, “I can sympathize with people who are coming to the Island and can’t find places for their RVs (recreation vehicles) or to camp. We need more of this to be provided in the community. I think this would be a viable business if a private entrepreneur wanted to undertake establishing a campground.”

“What are people to do? We encourage them to visit the Island, and need the tourist dollars to support the economy, but they can’t find places to camp, with other campgrounds in the area being packed,” said Reeve Hayden. “This issue and having more camping on the Island should be one of the first items on the list of things to look at for seasonal economic development by the (Western Manitoulin) economic development officer.”

The issue was raised at a Gordon/Barrie Island council meeting last week as well. 

Councillor Jack Bould pointed out he has seen heard reports of people bathing in Julia Bay, using soap and with their dogs on hand as well.

“We have no dogs allowed signs up,” said Clerk Carrie Lewis.

“I have seen more campers and RVs on Manitoulin Island than we’ve ever had before,” said Reeve Hayden. He pointed out the municipality has received a letter from an area resident recommending that the municipality should open a campground. However, “we don’t have the property for a campground.”

“It’s people who camp and leave their garbage everywhere and go to the bathroom where they can; that is a problem. It’s not people with RVs (recreational vehicles) because they are self-contained,” said Councillor Marian Hester.  

Reeve Hayden said that “I wish we had property to put up a campground.”

“The town (Gore Bay) has property, we don’t,” stated Councillor Hester. “What I don’t understand is why anyone would leave their home to visit another place without having a place to stay when they get there.”