Map shows the St. Lawrence River between New York and Ontario. The Long Sault Parkway is located west of Cornwall, Ontario, near the center of the map.

The St. Lawrence Parks Commission (SLPC) has announced its plans to move forward with changes to improve its offerings to visitors and at the same time its fiscal sustainability.

Among the changes for 2012, is free access to drive along the necklace of 11 islands connected by the 7-mile Long Sault Parkway between Ingleside and Long Sault, The Morrisburg (Ontario) Leader reported.

The parkway is home to the McLaren, Woodlands and Mille Roches campgrounds and two beach day-use area (Woodlands and Mille Roches).

For a number of years, a day-use entry fee was charged at the entrances to the parkway in Long Sault and Ingleside even for drive-through customers during the operating season.

This change is hoped to increase traffic along the parkway by giving more visitors and local residents the opportunity to enjoy the scenic drive’s natural beauty.

The day-use fee will only be charged for visitors stopping to use the picnic and beach facilities at Woodlands and Mille Roches Beaches of Lock 21.

“The SLPC is working diligently in Ontario’s eastern region to revitalize our unique tourism products and experiences and now, with a strong value proposition to support increased visitor engagement,” said Darren Dalgleish, general manager/CEO, St. Lawrence Parks Commission

Campground Changes

Other changes have been announced for the check-in procedures at the entrances to the campgrounds themselves.

Camper registration will now take place right at the campground entrances to McLaren, Woodlands or Mille Roches campgrounds in new storefront facilities that offer shopping for all camping essentials.

This move will improve check-in times, reduce line-ups on busy weekends and get campers to their campsites faster.

Other infrastructure investments at the campgrounds, currently underway, include two new cabins for McLaren Campground named the Santa Cruz and the Maple Grove after two of the hamlets of the Lost Villages, 113 RV-site upgrades also at McLaren Campground and improvements to drainage and beach facilities at each park.

At check-in, campers will be treated to two free passes that can be used for admission to either Upper Canada Village or Fort Henry during the regular season including visits to the new Discovery Centers at both sites as part of a new reciprocal program.

The offer is intended to encourage visitation to the SLPC’s other attractions in the region, improving visitor experience and encouraging a longer length of stay in the campgrounds.

“The board of directors and I are excited and encouraged by the direction Darren and his team is taking SLPC,” said Ron Eamer, acting chairman of the St. Lawrence Parks Commission. “We have a clear and aggressive focus that aims to serve the community in a thoughtful and entrepreneurial manner.”

SLPC operates an array of attractions and recreational experiences located in The Great Waterway region in Eastern Ontario along the St. Lawrence River.

The St. Lawrence Parks Commission’s campgrounds open for 2012 camping reservations both online (www.StLawrenceParks.com) and via telephone, (800) 437-2233 starting on Feb. 27.

Study in the Works

The SLPC is in the process of conducting an analysis of the adventure/geo tourism opportunities to generate new revenues through its own business initiatives and through partnerships with the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.

Results from this study are anticipated by late spring.

The SLPC generates approximately $100 million in economic impacts annually through its tourism operations.

Approximately 300,000 people in Ontario are directly or indirectly employed by the tourism industry.