Another soggy spring means Rondeau is closed to campers again

Rondeau Park visitors office. May 24, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Cowan Blackburn News Chatham Kent)

It’s shaping up to be a not-so-rowdy Victoria Day weekend at Rondeau Provincial Park.

For the second year in a row, the park will be closed to overnight stays for the first long weekend of the camping season.

The park was fully booked for the weekend, but a statement from provincial parks officials said they will be delaying the opening date of the campgrounds until at least May 24 “due to heavy rainfall and flooding,” citing “the late arrival of spring.”

Anyone who had a reservation for the weekend will be able to modify it with no penalty or cancel for a full refund.

A similar issue forced campers to make alternative arrangements last year.

All of the campsites at the park were closed over the Victoria Weekend in 2018 because of “heavy spring rain resulting in localized flooding.”

At that time, park officials said safety concerns and the likelihood of soil compaction and rutting were some of the factors that forced their hand.

In the past, Rondeau has been a hotspot for young partiers over the Victoria Day weekend with OPP evicting more than 100 people from 19 campsites in 2017 alone. Officers also laid dozens of charges during that same weekend, mostly for alcohol and trespassing. Some washrooms and several campsites were also left damaged.

Before park officials announced the park would be closed in 2018, OPP had issued an early reminder that there is an alcohol ban in effect at the park for the long weekend. Officers also issued warning posters to area schools, letting students know the rules and consequences of breaking those rules.

Last year’s camping cancellation didn’t stop birders from flocking to Rondeau for a day trip, though, and once again, the park will remain open for day use from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. over the long weekend.

Wheatley Provincial Park is still open for camping over the Victoria Day weekend with several non-reservable sites available and as of Wednesday morning, there were still approximately 40 sites available for the weekend at C.M. Wilson Conservation Area just south of Chatham. An alcohol ban is in effect for both of those parks.