$1.5 million for infrastructure at Georgian Bay Islands National Park

Parks Canada places belong to all Canadians. They represent the very best that Canada has to offer and tell stories of who we are, including the history, culture and contributions of Indigenous peoples. Just 90 minutes north of Toronto, Georgian Bay Islands National Park offers a wide variety of activities, whether you are looking for a relaxing getaway or an active adventure.

Today, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna, announced infrastructure investments of $1.5 million in Georgian Bay Islands National Park.

These investments will enhance visitor facilities, such as with renewed visitor shelters that will ensure welcoming areas for guests to gather for picnics or rainy day activities. The park is also investing in its summer staff accommodations and the maintenance building, both important facilities for ensuring the park continues to offer safe and high-quality visitor experiences in this remote setting.

Investments in visitor infrastructure – such as trails, visitor centres and campgrounds, as well as highways, parkways and bridges – will ensure the quality and reliability of visitor facilities and continue to allow Canadians to connect with nature.

“Parks Canada manages one of the finest and most extensive systems of protected natural and cultural heritage areas in the world. This investment of $1.5 million in Georgian Bay Islands National Park will help ensure high-quality visitor experiences for years to come, while benefitting the local economy. We look forward to continuing to offer Canadians, including youth and newcomers, exceptional and meaningful opportunities to discover nature and learn about our environment and heritage at Georgian Bay Islands National Park.”

The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

Quick Facts

· Georgian Bay Islands National Park is an incredible destination that is easily accessible by boat, especially by the park’s visitor shuttle, DayTripper, which you can hop on and explore the park’s largest island, Beausoleil Island. Visitors looking to spend the night have a range of accommodation choices; equipped Island Safari Tents, family and couple cabins, and 5 brand new Parks Canada oTENTik’s.

· There is a total of 120 campsites and 10 rustic cabins on Beausoleil Island. Cedar Spring Campground has 45 sites, 6 rustic cabins, 5 oTENTiks and 2 Island Safari Tents available by reservation.

· Non boaters visiting Georgian Bay Islands National Park can reserve the Daytripper shuttle service by calling 705-526-8907.

· Parks Canada is investing an unprecedented $3 billion dollars over 5 years to support infrastructure work to heritage, tourism, waterway and highway assets located within national historic sites, national parks, and national marine conservation areas across Canada. This investment will ensure these cherished places are protected and secured for the future.

Elderly Bracebridge waitress told she can’t prove citizenship

by Matt Sitler

Imagine Sandra Eaton’s surprise when she learned she couldn’t prove her Canadian citizenship.

The elderly Utterson resident, who has worked for years as a waitress in Bracebridge, says she made the shocking discovery when she applied for a new Health Card through Service Ontario.

“I had received a letter from Service Ontario saying I needed to get a photo Health Card,” she explains. “In November I went up there and they told me I couldn’t have one because I couldn’t prove I was a Canadian citizen.”

The backstory is that Eaton was born in the UK and has a British birth certificate, not a Canadian one. She doesn’t have a Canadian passport or proof of her Canadian citizenship, despite having lived in Canada for close to 70 years.

“I was two and a half years old when I came over,” she says. “I assumed all along that because my father was Canadian and my mother was a British subject, I assumed that by birth I was Canadian. I’ve always considered myself a Canadian.”

sandraNow, at age 72, Eaton finds herself in the process of applying for proof of her citizenship with Citizenship and Immigration Canada, but there’s a bit of a hitch.

Stymying the process is the fact she doesn’t have a bulk of the required information to complete the application form. Both her parents and grandparents are now deceased, making it next to impossible for her to provide details like their dates of birth and how they obtained their own citizenship.

“All these questions I can’t answer,” she explains. “Because my parents are deceased and I don’t know when my grandparents were born – I’m between a rock and a hard place.”

Eaton says she’s been told there are many like her across the country who find themselves in similar situations.

“I’ve been advised to fill the papers out as far as I can, then maybe somebody can help me – but maybe they can’t,” she worries.

The oldest of 13 siblings, Eaton says nobody else in her family knows the information required by the application.

“I’ve got a driver’s license, my old age pension & my Canada pension,” she says. “But I want people to know what you have to go through (to get the citizenship).”

Lindsay Wemp, media relations with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, says  if an applicant is unable to supply the required documentation to submit an application for a Canadian citizenship certificate (proof of citizenship), they can include a Statutory Declaration with their application indicating the reasons why they are unable to obtain the necessary documentation.  “This will ensure that the application does not get returned as incomplete,” she tells Muskoka News Watch.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) does not have data on how many of these type situations exist across the country, says Wemp.

“It is important to distinguish between those who are citizens but do not have proof of citizenship and those who are not citizens and who would be required to submit an application to be granted citizenship (naturalization),” she says. “It is recommended that persons who think they may have a claim to citizenship, such as through being born outside Canada to a Canadian parent, apply for a citizenship certificate to get a determination on their status. IRCC has various information on its website to help: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/citizenship/proof.asp.  If they are determined to not be a citizen, then an application for a grant of citizenship would need to be submitted.”

As for the estimated processing time for a citizenship certificate (proof of citizenship), Wemp says it is currently five months for routine applications.

“Non-routine applications could take longer if additional information or documentation is required.  Information on processing times can be found here:  http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/times/index.asp,” she says. “Applications for a grant of citizenship received on or after April 1, 2015 are currently being processed within 12 months. If applicants have difficulty providing documentation to demonstrate their claim for citizenship, as mentioned above, the Department may accept a Statutory Declaration where necessary.”

We’ll keep track of Eaton’s progress in her quest to prove her citizenship and let you know how it all pans out.

If you have a story suggestion, please email msitler@muskokanewsarchive.com. (Photo by Matt Sitler)

Bracebridge Rotary Centre for Youth celebrates its 25th anniversary

At a special club meeting held on the evening of Friday, May 27th, the Rotary Club of Bracebridge celebrated the upcoming 25th year of operation for the Rotary Centre for Youth.

Special guests at the event included Mayor Graydon Smith, Honourary Members Ken Black and Ken Cumming as well as retired Rotarian and former Town Treasurer Andy Nelan.

Bracebridge Rotary Centre for YouthMembers and guests were treated to stories that ranged from the incubation of the idea to the build the building to an overview of how the centre benefits the community today.

The Rotary Centre for Youth is located at 131 Wellington Street and is used 4 nights a week by the local Girl Guides and 1st Bracebridge Scout Canada groups and was officially opened in early June 1991. In addition to thanking the special guests, all who played roles in helping the club make the RCY a reality, the Club honoured one of the members, Bob Jones who played a key role in the development of the facility as well as its operations over the past 25 years.

Mr. Jones was honoured as a Paul Harris Fellow plus 3 (+3). According to Cheryl Kelley, President of the Rotary Club of Bracebridge, “Bob was a member of the Steering Committee for the Building Committee; overseen the construction using his professional expertise as a contractor and has served on the Operating Committee for the Rotary Centre for Youth for the past 25 years. His commitment to our Club and the youth of our community exemplifies the humanitarian objectives of Rotary International. Members of our Club were proud to present him with this recognition”.

The construction of the RCY 25 years ago was funded by a “Wintario Grant” from the Province of Ontario as well as through Club fundraising. The Rotary Club held two annual “house draws” as well as a “cash elimination draw” to pay off the cost of construction within three years of construction. The RCY is situated on land leased from the Town of Bracebridge for a nominal amount. The Club operates the RCY and some of the costs are offset by rentals such as weddings, engagement parties, Christmas parties, business and organizational meetings.

The RCY is used for various functions hosted by the Rotary Club of Bracebridge including the Club’s weekly Friday lunch meetings. Kelley said, “The Club is looking forward to supporting the youth of the community by making the centre available to the community’s youth for the next 25 years”.