Stranded tourists urinating on properties
By Chad Ingram
Published June 23, 2016
Algonquin Highlands township is looking to the province to do something about traffic congestion at the Algonquin Park entrance along Highway 60 near Oxtongue Lake, congestion that is so extreme that stranded motorists sometimes end up urinating on private properties in the area.
Township councillors received a report on the issue during a June 16 meeting.
Council had asked public works director Mike Thomas to look into the congestion after problems last fall.
Traffic jams stretching several kilometres from the park’s west gate along Highway 60 have caused collisions, restrict access for emergency vehicles and often result in motorists relieving themselves on properties along the corridor.
“It happens all over the place,” Ward 3 Councillor Marlene Kyle told the paper. “It’s really horrible. The cars are backed up to Dwight. You get up here and it’s a dead zone.”
Thomas told council that officials at the provincially controlled park are working on solutions to the problem, including placing at least 10 additional staff members in the parking area selling passes and directing traffic; disallowing buses from entering the park during high-traffic periods; installing signage along Highway 11 to inform visitors of alternate entrances to the park; and researching alternate methods for ticket sales.
“After speaking with some of the resort owners located on the Oxtongue Lake Road, it appears that the major concerns are with cars and buses parking in front of their businesses, people walking through private property and asking to use their washroom facilities,” a report from Thomas reads.
Thomas recommended the township erect “local traffic only” signs at the intersections of Oxtongue Lake Road and Blue Spruce Road during peak foliage season, which council supported.
He’d also investigated the option of renting portable privies to reduce incidents of urination on private property.
Renting four privies between mid-September and mid-October would cost about $800, including a weekly cleaning and servicing fee.
“The only thing I can see us doing is ‘local traffic only’ signage,” said Deputy-reeve Liz Danielsen at last week’s meeting, adding that anything beyond that is the province’s responsibility.
“I would like to see the privies,” Kyle said.
“The problem is getting to the park,” said Reeve Carol Moffatt, emphasizing the park belongs to the provincial government. “I feel like all we’re doing lately is having issues with the province.”
Moffatt said the township shouldn’t have to pay for something that is a provincial problem.
The reeve noted the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference is coming up later this summer and that councillors could mention the problem to provincial officials at that event.
Council passed on the purchase of privies for now, pending the outcome of further conversations with the province.