The government of Ontario has announced a Covid-19 prohibition order on Crown Land camping; it did the same thing a year ago and I don’t think that once it was lifted, right up to now, there has been one Covid-19 case traced back to anyone camping on Crown Land. So it begs the question, what’s the problem? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the Ford Government should be voted out like some people have opined from their hollow political pulpits; this is no time for political pontificating; we’re all in this together and we need sensible dialogue to find solutions. I could go on at some length at how long it took voters to wake up and get rid of the McGuinty-Wynne liberals that did their best to ruin this Province but this note isn’t about that. This government like all others across Canada is cow-towing to the epidemiologists, the group truly running the show, and we’re all suffering overkill protectionism based on their advice. By all accounts the principal cause of virus spread has been traced to irresponsible group party activities in city environments; common sense outdoors folks are not part of that badassery crowd. 

The walleye opener is coming up in a month and many families have plans for remote Crown land expeditions where nothing could be safer. It’s the one respite they’ve been looking forward to as an escape from months of lockdowns, many being city folks whose kids have suffered irreparable isolation stress so families are more than anxious to get away for some quality time. How many drug overdose suicides of teenagers, mainly girls, will it take for all Provincial governments to understand the depth of this despair leading to tragic happenings that have been hellishly unreported, if not swept under the rug. In my family circle alone we are aware of three such tragic losses in families we know in southern Ontario. Where have the health authorities been in not divulging these horrendous side effects to the lockdowns, perhaps being deliberately obfuscatory?

Crown Land camping represents a unique and very safe avenue to alleviate stresses during these difficult times and the government should be opening these doors not closing them. So I suppose they’ll have Conservation Officers out there laying charges, the courts giving their interpretation of “camping” and imposing fines thus burdening an already overworked and understaffed CO corps. Take your trailer or tent out and park it in the middle of nowhere and you get fined so don’t take it and sleep in your truck as that’s not “camping”, or is it? Day use fishing and hunting is OK but sleeping overnight isn’t. Think about that, it’s a new definition of illogical! So what happens to bear hunting outfitters that have cabins on Crown lands for their hunters, is that “camping”? Or if you have your own fishing camp back in the bush on  Crown Land authorized under a Land Use Permit or lease, is that camping? And how about a trapper back in his remote cabin on Crown Land taking care of business?

Is there really any risk difference between an outdoors person taking a break in his or her cabin on deeded land in a remote forest area compared to a camper in a wilderness Crown Land setting? Prohibitions such as this are not management actions; they are a cop-out. A management strategy on the other hand might be the setting of guidelines spelling out minimum distances between tents or trailers within a Crown Land access point on a  lake much like primitive campsite arrangements in some Provincial Parks. As in the case of blanket lockdowns of perfectly Covid-manageable small businesses this situation has gone over the moon with governments listening to recommendations from outdoors-uneducated-folks in the health field, the unelected-powercrats who view the world through the lens of crowded city environments totally out of context with Crown Land forest areas.

We’ve been with this pandemic for over a year so by now we should have learned how to live with it, and prohibiting Crown Land camping is not part of the answer. Some jurisdictions such as Sweden have not gone into lockdowns and their mortality numbers aren’t any worse than some that have; they trust their citizens to be smart and truly understand the horrendous side effects of lockdowns. Outdoorsy folks are not shmucks nor are we prone to getting shmacked in a party atmosphere if health protocols demand extreme care; it’ll be time for celebration once this pandemic is licked. What we all need now is the emergence of a true meritocracy via the melding of the political and health authorities spearheading a common-sense path forward based on good science.

Ron P. AltonĀ