The Superior Coastal Highlands Tourism Association has sent out letters to various provincial ministries and stakeholders stressing that there is an absence of modern rest stop facilities along Ontario’s main highways and in our region.  Association President Frank O’Connor says letters have been sent to the Tourism, MNR, MTO and Northern Development and Mines Ministries.  Here is one of the letters that have been forwarded…

The Honourable Michael Coteau Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport 9th Floor, Hearst Block 900 Bay Street Toronto, Ontario, M7A2E1

Dear  Mr. Coteau:

I am writing to you on behalf of The Superior Coastal Highlands Tourism Association (SCHTA).  We are a relatively new grass roots tourism organization of merchants, artists, and adventurers, located between Heyden and Montreal River Harbour.   Our goal is to promote the natural wonders, beauty and majestic wildness of the north shore of Lake Superior.  Additionally, as a tourism association, we will promote the many businesses and services that exist along this stretch of highway, the rich culture and history, and the many recreational opportunities that are available here.  We believe that by collectively working together, we can make the visitor’s trip through this magnificent region more memorable.

We have been meeting as an association for over a year now, and we have identified a real need in our region, and in fact, something that is a real need right across Ontario.  There is an absence of modern rest stop facilities along Ontario’s main highways, and in our region, there is no modern rest stop between the Sault and Wawa.  There are, in places and open only during the summer season, rudimentary and rather crude “outhouse” type facilities, but these are neither safe, sanitary, or desirable.

To improve the four season driving experience of travelers and visitors through our area, to protect the environment, and to address a major health and personal safety issue, we strongly urge you to work within your ministry, and alongside other related ministries and appropriate government agencies to establish a series of year round comfort stations, equipped with modern facilities, along the highway 17 corridor. This is long overdue, and needs to become a priority issue for the Ministry of Tourism, Sport and Culture in Ontario.

With respect to our specific region, a relatively new building built by the MTO and located at Batchawana Bay Provincial Day Park remains largely underutilized and more often vacant.  We would like to see this specific building returned to its original purpose as a travel information centre and rest stop for tourists and travelers.  Our American visitors are accustomed to fully equipped and ultra-modern rest stop buildings, and it is time Ontario moved into the 21st century, and provided up to date facilities for its highway travelers.

The SCHTA is beginning a lobbying campaign directed at the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Tourism, Sport and Culture, The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines to address this outstanding and very important need on our highways.  In our immediate region, we would like to re-establish our Batchawana Building as a proper year round rest stop, but the larger picture means the lack of such facilities throughout Ontario needs to be properly addressed.

Canada’s sesquicentennial year is 2017, and the Trans Canada Trail is scheduled to celebrate their grand opening across Canada that same year.  Through our region, the Trans Canada Trail will be a “water trail” along the north shore of Lake Superior.  The Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy Group has been working tirelessly on this project for several years now, and it looks like fruition of the ‘water trail” portion along the north shore of Lake Superior  is near complete.  Batchawana Beach Provincial Park is slated to be one of the official “access points” for this water trail, and it is imperative that this specific MTO building be open, and operating as a travel information centre and year round rest stop.

As mentioned earlier in this letter, we are also contacting other related ministries, and tourism related groups to make everyone aware of this very important issue.

We thank you for your efforts in promoting Ontario as a first class tourist destination region in the world.  We know that this year in particular, you are very busy with the Pan-Am Games being held in Toronto, and we applaud you for leading such a mammoth international event.    It is our hope that you and your ministry will get behind this important issue, support it, and, in the end, see it through to implementation.

Once again, thank you for your consideration of these issues.  We look forward to hearing from you as we move forward with this lobbying effort.  We would like the opportunity to meet with officials in your ministry to discuss this issue further.


Frank O’Connor – President Superior Coastal Highlands Tourism Association.