Ontario Parks to clamp down on campers reselling permits for profit starting Saturday

TORONTO — Ontario Parks has vowed to clamp down on campers reselling site permits for profit starting Saturday.

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) acknowledged Thursday that the ministry was made aware of instances “where individuals are attempting to sell reservations with the intention to make a profit.”

“We don’t condone reselling Ontario Parks reservations for a profit and we take concerns raised by our visitors very seriously,” a spokesperson said in email to CTVNews.ca Thursday.

Ontario residents have been struggling to secure campsites in provincial parks, where demand is up 130 per cent over last year, according to the government. The competition in securing a site is so stiff, people have turned to reselling permits on sites like Kijiji before going through the cancellation process.

“August 7 – 11, 2021 radio free and pet free campsite at Grundy Lake Provincial Park. Price includes transfer fee,” a now deleted post read. Others are offering third-party “guided tours.”

“Can’t book a campsite? Have always wanted to go backcountry camping but don’t know how?” reads another posting.

One user boasted of creating a “bot” to mass-book campsites then resell them to the general public.

MECP previously told CTVNews.ca: “These operators and individuals are not associated with Ontario Parks. The reassignment of reservations by outside operators or individuals is permitted under provincial park legislation,” its spokesperson said.

However, starting Saturday those caught campsite touting will likely have the permit cancelled and may be forced to pay a fee.

“Effective April 24, 2021, reservation holders are not permitted to resell any reservation for profit,” a MECP spokesperson said in an email. “If Ontario Parks becomes aware that anyone has attempted to sell a reservation for profit, for example, if they have listed a reservation on social media or buy and sell websites for re-sale for profit, the reservation may be cancelled and all applicable penalty fees will apply.”

MECP told CTVNews.ca on Friday that Ontario Parks staff members who will be working to identify instances of permit touting are asking the public to email them about any possible violations.

When reaching out to Ontario Parks, MECP said the public should try to include the following information:

Screenshots or copies of the advertisement or post
Link to the advertisement or post
Name of the party attempting to sell  
Dates of the campsite for re-sale
Park of the campsite for re-sale
Booking number of the reservation for re-sale
Site number of the reservation for re-sale

Currently cancellation fees are based on how far out the site arrival date was booked and the penalty ranges from $7.52 plus HST to $25 for backcountry sites, and 10 per cent of campsite fees to 50 per cent for car campsites.

MECP also said the ministry is looking at new ways to “to make more campsites available for reservation to satisfy the growing demand.”

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