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Popular Gatineau Park campgrounds to stay closed for another summer

The Lac Philippe campground will remain closed for renovations for a second consecutive summer. (Mama Afou/Radio-Canada - image credit)
The Lac Philippe campground will remain closed for renovations for a second consecutive summer. (Mama Afou/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Sandra Beaubien stopped making her annual "bikepacking" trip to Gatineau Park last year after her favourite campsite closed for renovations.

She's now disappointed to hear the National Capital Commission (NCC) won't be reopening the site at Lac Philippe this summer.

"I'll miss that little bit of peacefulness," she said Saturday.

"When I stay there overnight, it's different. You hear the owls, you hear the loons. There's just this peace in the park that you don't get when you go for a quick day trip."

Despite previous promises from the NCC that they would reopen in 2024, campsites at Philippe, Taylor and Renaud lakes will stay closed for a second consecutive summer for renovations.

Lac Philippe is the largest of the three, having 250 campsites, including 11 ready-to-camp units comprised of a mix of all-season tents, yurts and cabins.

The demolition of buildings and tree removal started there in September 2022, with construction beginning last spring, the NCC said in a statement.

But labour shortages and high inflation have both delayed work's completion, the commission said. The reopening is now scheduled for spring 2025.

Meanwhile, only canoe-camping will be available at La Pêche Lake this summer, the NCC added.

'It's just a nice weekend away. Gatineau Park is definitely close to my heart,' says Beaubien who bikes from Ottawa into Gatineau Park to camp every year.
'It's just a nice weekend away. Gatineau Park is definitely close to my heart,' says Beaubien who bikes from Ottawa into Gatineau Park to camp every year.

'It's just a nice weekend away. Gatineau Park is definitely close to my heart,' says Beaubien who bikes from Ottawa into Gatineau Park to camp every year. (Submitted by Sandra Beaubien)

The mayor of the municipality of La Pêche, Guillaume Lamoureux, isn't surprised by the delay.

"We were finally hoping that [the sites] would open this year, but given what's happening with construction, labour, supplies ... it's disappointing, but not surprising," he told Radio-Canada in French.

'Going to be a good season' 

While campers start thinking about the summer season, Vicki Schouten, owner of Expéditions Wakefield, has been prepping for weeks.

"We should have a hot summer," she said. "There'll be lots of opportunities for people to get outside, whether that's cycling or paddling, and hopefully throwing a bit of camping in there."

Vicki Schouten, owner of Expéditions Wakefield says she's expecting lots of demand for outdoor gear this summer.
Vicki Schouten, owner of Expéditions Wakefield says she's expecting lots of demand for outdoor gear this summer.

Vicki Schouten, owner of Expéditions Wakefield, says that even though the campsites aren't opening this summer, there are plenty of other lakes in the region to explore. (Sam Konnert/CBC)

Schouten said she was disappointed to hear of the continued closures, but says there are plenty of other areas to explore.

"There's lots of places north of the municipality of La Pêche. A lot of people go to Poisson Blanc, White Lake, 31 Mile Lake. There's some alternative options," she said.

Beaubien, however, thinks the three sites' accessibility make them a dream location for Ottawans looking for a quick getaway.

"It's super quiet at those campsites overnight, but you still have the convenience of a town close by," she said.

"It's like a reset. I'm going to miss it."