GRCA reopening boat launches at some conservation areas this weekend

WELLINGTON COUNTY – The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) will open boat launches at some conservation areas on Saturday (May 23).

The May 22 announcement may come as a bit of a surprise to some, as the GRCA announced just two days prior that launches would likely not open until May 30.

“GRCA staff have been able to install all required public safety infrastructure around dams and prepare these facilities ahead of schedule,” states the May 22 press release.

Now opening on May 23 are:

  • boat launches at Belwood Lake and Conestogo Lake;
  • boat launches and docks for those who wish to canoe and kayak at Guelph Lake, Laurel Creek and Shade’s Mills conservation areas; and
  • boating and fishing at the above reservoirs (canoe and kayak rentals are not available).

“Visitors are also reminded to practice physical distancing by staying at least two metres or six feet apart, and not to congregate in groups,” states the GRCA release.

“The GRCA is also asking the public to plan short visits to areas that have been reopened to ensure the space can be shared with all those looking to get outside and into nature.

“Some portions of the conservation areas may not be accessible. Visitors are reminded to obey signage, and keep their pets on a leash at all times.”

The reservoir at the Rockwood Conservation Area will remain closed and canoeing and kayaking is not permitted at this time.

All GRCA buildings and on-site facilities, including washrooms, gatehouses, picnic areas, playgrounds, beaches and docks in these areas will remain closed.

In addition, no garbage receptacles will be available and visitors are asked to carry any garbage or pet waste out with them.

“Visitors are reminded that these areas will be open between 8am and 6pm and that parking is limited,” states the GRCA release.

“If capacity is reached, access will be restricted. Since there is no automatic gate at these conservation areas, and gatehouses will remain closed, visitors without a Grand River Parks membership pass will be required to pay by cash (exact change only) in payment boxes located at the gatehouse.”

Officials add, “Standard entrance fees will apply. Standard boat launch fees for motor boats at Belwood Lake and Conestogo Lake conservation areas will apply and must also be paid upon entry.”

The following remain closed at this time: Brant, Byng Island, Elora Gorge, Elora Quarry and Pinehurst Lake conservation areas, and the Luther Marsh Wildlife Management Area.

For more details visit the GRCA website.