May 02, 2022
Doug Ford announced on April 10th, that the provincial government will be “investing $75 million to bring passenger rail service back to North Eastern Ontario.”
We’re delivering the connected infrastructure to accommodate our growing province.— Doug Ford (@fordnation) April 10, 2022
Our government is saying YES to investing in the North while connecting all of Ontario to the opportunities of tomorrow.
Friends, let's get it done pic.twitter.com/kgHw1vViqy
When the Liberal government shut down the Northlander Passenger Train service in 2012, Ontarians’ access to the north became severely limited, with only a few buses being available. This got even worst when Grey Hound, a major bus operator, shut down its operations in Canada. The announcement of the resumption of rail transportation to the Northeastern Ontario brings good news to the residents of Northern Ontario, businesses and also leisure travelers such as campers like us.
As a backcountry camping enthusiast and the one usually responsible for budgeting and planning for these trips, I can vouch that cost of travel was a major expense. Many times, it would be the highest expenses, surpasses food, park permits or canoe rentals depending on the length of the trip as well as number of people carpooling to split the cost of gas and mileage. With passenger rail service, solo campers who reside in Toronto may find it affordable to spend time alone in Ontario’s beautiful provincial parks again.
From where and to where will the Northlander passenger service run?
As of now, the plan is from downtown Toronto (Union Station) to the city of Timmins with 14 stops in between for a total of 16 stops. However, there are discussions to expand the line to towns of Moosonee and Cochrane.
What are the 16 stops?
Toronto (Union Station), Langstaff, Gormley, Washago, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, Huntsville, South River, North Bay, Temagami, Temiskaming Shores, Englehart, Kirkland Lake, Matheson, Timmins (Porcupine) and Cochrane.
When is the service coming into effect?
Although there are some work to be done, the aim is to be in service by the mid-2020s.
April 25, 2022
The provincial government of Ontario had been testing “flat fees” for the past 2 years. While it may be good news for the people who travel in bigger groups, it received a lot of complaints from solo travelers and those who travel in pairs. Previously, all campers were charged on a ‘per-person per-night’ basis for the campsite permits. However, the government is piloting a program to charge a ‘flat-rate per-night.’ With this change, the solo traveler would be get a huge increase in permit fees, an increase of over 300%! No wonder there is a petition going around with over 11,500 signatures. (https://www.change.org/p/jeff-yurek-minister-of-the-environment-back-country-camping-fee-increases-in-ontario)
From the Ontario Parks standpoint, this change may increase the revenue it brings in to continue the maintenance work. The change would make backcountry camping fee model consistent with the province’s car camping fee model.
The ministry will continue to monitor the situation and review all feedback to decide if they will go ahead with the change in the future, but at least for one more year… most backcountry parks will remain the status quo for 2022 season.
April 25, 2022
High Park is finally opened for in-person cherry blossom viewing after 2 long years. Although High Park is one of the most popular and best-known places for cherry blossoms as it is in the heart of Toronto, there many numerous other spots to see the cherry blossoms.
1) Spencer Smith Park
Address: 1400 Lakeshore Rd. Burlington
2) Toronto Island
Address: Take the ferry at 9 Queens Quay W. Toronto
3) Kariya Park
Address: 3620 Kariya Dr. Mississauga
4) Birkdale Ravine
Address: 1100 Brimley Rd. Scarborough
5) Broadacres Park
Address: 35 Crendon Dr. Etobicoke
6) York University
Address: 4700 Keele St. North York
7) Royal Botanical Garden
Address: 680 Plains Rd. W. Burlington
8) Niagara Botanical Garden
Address: 2565 Niagara Pkwy. Niagara Falls
April 25, 2022
It’s official. The city of Toronto has announced that High Park will be opened for the cherry blossom season his year after being closed for 2 years due to the Covid-19 virus. During those years, the city of Toronto created a “Bloom Cam” to provide a live 24/7 footage of the cherry blossoms which had just under 125,000 unique visitors.
This year, Mayor John Tory encouraged people to visit by stating “When the peak bloom begins, I encourage you to rediscover the cherry blossoms in High Park and in cherry blossom locations across the city.”
So that brings us to the question, “when is peak bloom in Toronto?”
Generally, peak bloom is in late-April to mid-May, but only lasts for 4-10 days out of the entire year! With the peak window being so short and the cherry blossoms being in such high demand, everyone can expect huge crowds and traffic at the park.
When visiting High Park during full bloom, I do recommend that you:
April 25, 2022
Claiming Ontario’s 2022 Staycation Tax Credit for Your Camping Trip
The province of Ontario announced a Staycation Credit to encourage in-province tourism in 2022 as Ontario businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector is financially recovering from 2-years of Covid-19 related lockdowns and restrictions.
For the camping world, this is great news for both the campers and the parks.
Who is eligible?
All Ontario residents on December 31, 2022 can claim the tax credit. Only one individual per family can claim the credit. However, if you have a spouse or a common-law partner, the amount you can claim doubles.
How much can I claim?
You can claim up to $1,000 as an individual. If you have a spouse or a common-law partner, you may claim up to $2,000.
How much do I get back?
You will get back 20%. So as individuals can claim up to $1,000, individuals can receive up to $200. With a spouse or common-law partner, up to $400.
What expenses can you claim?
Only short-term accommodations can be claimed (for stays under 1-month). Accommodations in hotels, motels, resorts, lodges, bed-and-breakfast establishments, cottages and of course our favourite, campgrounds.
Time-share agreements, stays on a boat, train and other self-propelled vehicles are not included.
For camper, it means that we can only claim the park reservation fees itself. Other expense such as gas, food or firewood does not apply.
What are the requirements?
1. The tax credit applies to leisure stays between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022 within the province of Ontario.
How to claim the tax credit
You will claim this when you do your 2022 taxes, most likely in 2023. You must keep the receipts that details the following: