The process continues to designate the Alfred Bog as a provincial park. Personnel at the Ontario Parks branch of the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks are guiding the effort through the various regulatory stages.
In April 2018, the Ontario government announced plans to integrate the 10,000-acre/40.5-square-kilometre wetland into the provincial parks system. The bog has already been under the jurisdiction of Ontario Parks for several years in conjunction with other landowners and organizations. including the Nature Conservancy of Canada and South Nation Conservation.
The Alfred Bog is the largest of the three ‘domed’ peat bogs that remain in the southern half of Ontario. Domed bogs form from retreating glacial water, when layers of peat accumulate and gradually rise. They accumulate water only through whatever precipitation they can absorb.
The bog is home to several rare plant species and provides a wilderness oasis for Ontario’s most southerly herd of moose.
According to Ontario Parks Park Planner Kendra Couling, the next step in the process is to initiate a land use amendment process with the Ministry of Natural Resources to have the bog recommended as a provincial park. A consultation process will follow the recommendation, and if the land use amendment is approved, then the process of regulating the land as a park may begin.
Couling said the provincial government established a working group to provide recommendations on adding and expanding protected areas, and to identify opportunities for public-private partnerships. The partnership approach is being used on the Alfred Bog project.
“The proposed Alfred Bog Provincial Park is a good example of government working with private partners, in this case the Nature Conservancy of Canada, to expand protected areas,” Couling said.
At the present stage of planning, it is still not known whether Alfred Bog as a provincial park will offer recreational activities, or services such as campgrounds, or day use areas similar to those found at Voyageur and other parks.
“Decisions regarding the operating status of Alfred Bog will take place following regulation,” Couling explained.
If the bog is regulated as a provincial park, a management plan – which would include visitor services and activities – will be established after public consultation. Ontario Parks will advertise the consultation process in local communities.
Presently, the only official recreational facility in the Alfred Bog is the short, one-kilometre Bog Walk trail, which begins at the dead end of the 11th Concession, east of Montée Giroux, south of the village of Alfred.
Area municipalities have already become involved with the park planning process. Ontario Parks has asked La Nation to identify any municipal road allowances within the proposed park boundary that it wishes to keep open. At the council meeting back on July 26, Mayor François St-Amour expressed doubt that there are any road allowances the municipality would like to retain. However, La Nation Planner Guylain Laflèche said he is verifying the map to be sure of all of the road allowances shown on it.
Alfred and Plantagenet Mayor Stéphane Sarrazin noted that approximately 80 per cent of the Alfred Bog is in La Nation. However, the Bog Walk trail area is within Alfred and Plantagenet.
Sarrazin said municipal road accesses within the proposed park boundary have not been an issue for the municipality.
“We don’t have many road allowances there to be honest,” Sarrazin said, adding that a provincial park could create a destination for visitors to the region. “I would be interested to see if it has tourism and economic benefits.”
However, Sarrazin emphasized that conservation is the Ontario government’s main goal in establishing Alfred Bog Provincial Park.
“I think it’s about protecting the animals, there’s a lot of moose there.”