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The GRCA to reopen conservation areas for limited day use

GRCA staff have been able to install all required public safety infrastructure around dams and prepare these facilities ahead of schedule
Trail along Grand River
Trail along the Grand River in Kitchener. Blair Adams/KitchenerToday
This Saturday, May 23, Belwood Lake (Fergus), Conestogo Lake (Wallenstein), Guelph Lake (Guelph) and Rockwood (Rockwood) conservation areas will reopen for limited recreational activities. Laurel Creek (Waterloo) and Shade’s Mills (Cambridge) conservation areas are also open for limited day use activities.

While it was initially anticipated that boat launches at Belwood Lake, Conestogo Lake, Guelph Lake, Laurel Creek, and Shade’s Mills would not reopen until May 30, GRCA staff have been able to install all required public safety infrastructure around dams and prepare these facilities ahead of schedule.

On May 23, boat launches at Belwood Lake and Conestogo Lake will reopen for visitors to these areas. In addition, boat launches and docks have been installed and are ready for those who wish to canoe and kayak at Guelph Lake, Laurel Creek and Shade’s Mills conservation areas. Boating and fishing are now permitted on these reservoirs.

Canoe and kayak rentals are not available. The reservoir at Rockwood Conservation Area will remain closed and canoeing and kayaking is not permitted at this time.

All buildings and on-site facilities, including washrooms, gatehouses, picnic areas, playgrounds, and beaches 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 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. and that parking is limited. 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. 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.

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

At this time, Brant, Byng Island, Elora Gorge, Elora Quarry and Pinehurst Lake conservation areas and Luther Marsh Wildlife Management Area remain closed. For complete details about which GRCA properties are open and closed to the public, and what activities are permissible, please visit

The GRCA will continue to reopen its properties in stages, and information will be shared as it becomes available.


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