Head, Clara and Maria council
Council worried about future of Driftwood Park
by Tim Ruhnke
Rumours that Driftwood Provincial Park will not open this year are unfounded, according to officials with the Ministry of Natural Resources.
But those same officials acknowledged they could not guarantee the park would open because the province's budget has not been finalized.
Driftwood, located on the Ot tawa River between Stonecliffe and Mackey, has been part of the provincial park system for more than 30 years.
Head, Clara and Maria council discussed rumours of the park's closing at last Monday's council meeting.
"It would be detrimental to the municipality," Reeve Lita Therrien said of the possibility the park would not open in 1994.
Therrien said council wants the ministry to indicate whether there is any validity to those rumours.
"We're going to the top with this one," Reeve Therrien told the NRT.
The townships will be sending letters to the regional park director as well as the Minister of Natural Resources, the reeve said.
"We want clarification of whether it's a possibility," she added.
Therrien declined to identify the source of the rumours, but did say she believes the source to be credible.
Ray Bonenberg, supervisor of the ministry s district office in Pembroke, said he is not aware of any plans to keep Driftwood from opening this spring.
"As far as I know, the park is going to be open ... we're gearing up to run the park this summer," Bonenberg said last Wednesday.
Bruce Van Staalduinen of the ministry's provincial parks branch in Peterborough said plans to cut parks from the system are not included in the ministry's work program currently being set.
Therrien said one reason for concern is that Driftwood has been moved from the Sudbury region to Muskoka, and the local park might lose out to other parks in central Ontario if provincial money is tight this year.
"If there is closure, Driftwood might be at the low end of the priority pole," suggested Therrien.
Last year, provincial money came later than expected. As a result, uncertainty over Driftwood remained until shortly before its anticipated opening date.
"Knowing the worry was there last year led council to decide not to waste time in voicing concern," Therrien said.