By Chad Ingram
Published June 22 2017
Algonquin Highlands township will attempt to mitigate traffic woes at Oxtongue Lake during the fall foliage season with the closure of local roads this autumn.
Traffic congestion along Highway 60 at the entrance to Algonquin Park has been a problem for years. With a kilometres-long line of vehicles waiting to enter the park’s west gate chaos often ensues with stranded motorists not only wandering over private properties but sometimes urinating on them. There have been incidents where residents of Oxtongue Lake which is located along Highway 60 just outside the park return home to find families having picnics on their properties. Other times resort owners have reported motorists taking the liberty of taking their watercraft reserved for paying guests out for a spin.
"Last year somebody fell into the falls and the fire department had to respond” said Algonquin Highlands Reeve Carol Moffatt during a June 15 council meeting.
The provincial government which operates the park is taking steps to address the problems and will station more washrooms along the route this summer. The OPP will also be assisting with traffic issues but as Moffatt pointed out officers may have to leave at any time to respond to calls.
“The police unfortunately they can’t commit to very much” she said. “If they get an emergency call they have to go.”
Business owners in Oxtongue Lake have contemplated the idea of hiring paid duty police officers to help manage the chaos.
Councillors decided that Algonquin Highlands will close municipal roads in Oxtongue Lake to all but local traffic during the peak of fall foliage this year.
These include Oxtongue Lake Road Blue Spruce Road Algonquin Outfitters Road Harris Road and Tom Paris Road.
Moffatt said MTO is also working on positive messaging via signage in an attempt to help deal with traffic congestion.
“Keep going you’re almost at the park” she said.