Ontario Parks

Green Energy Report

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emission Plan 2014


Through the Green Energy Act (GEA), the government intends to reduce Ontario’s carbon footprint by demonstrating leadership in reducing greenhouse gasses and fostering a culture of conservation.

In order to facilitate this, energy consumption reporting is required for all target class facilities on a facility by facility basis. For the purposes of this report, each designated provincial park is being considered as one facility. Reporting is the responsibility of the Ministry that has operational control of the facility. Energy consumption reporting is not required for non-target class facilities.

Currently, the Government of Ontario has two energy targets for government-owned facilities:

  1. 20% electricity savings by 2012 over 2002/03 baseline
  2. 19% greenhouse gas (GHG) savings by 2014 over 2006 baseline

This report is submitted to the Ministry of Infrastructure (MOI) on an annual basis to report on publicly committed targets for government-owned facilities. The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) is required to make this report available publicly.

Scope: This report includes electrical, propane, fuel oil, natural gas and water consumption for the designated provincial park target class facilities for calendar year 2014. Water consumption data includes only municipal water usage.

Energy Benchmarks (targets): No specific targets have been provided for the target class facilities.

Portfolio Overview:

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is working to promote healthy, sustainable ecosystems and to conserve biodiversity. MNR conducts scientific research and applies the findings to develop effective resource management policies. In addition, the MNR manages Ontario’s Crown land, promotes economic opportunities in the resource sector and enhances opportunities for outdoor recreation.

The MNR operates in locations across the province which range from modern office buildings in urban environments to remote sites used to provide seasonal bases for operations.

One hundred and eight (108) of Ontario’s 334 provincial parks are classified as operating parks. Operating parks offer recreational and educational services for the public (i.e., camping, day-use) and charge fees. Many non-operating parks also receive considerable public use, even though facilities and services are minimal or not provided, and fees are not charged.

Each park has a different facility mixture comprised of public-facing buildings (entry control offices, comfort stations, park stores, visitor centres and vault privies) and non-public-facing buildings (park office/administration buildings, maintenance buildings/workshops, storage buildings and staff house buildings).

Over 80% of the energy consumed within provincial parks is supplied by Ontario Parks to customers, either through direct pricing (hydro sites) or services provided for customers (comfort stations, hot water, etc.). The balance of energy (20%) is consumed by Ontario Parks to operate offices, gates, maintenance buildings and, in some locations, staff houses.

Ontario’s provincial parks offer electrified campsites that generate more revenue per night than a non-electrical campsite. In light of the increased revenue associated, there is an incentive for Ontario Parks to have more campers on electrical campsites in order to meet consumer demands. In 2011 Ontario Parks added 114 more electrical campsites bringing the total electrified campsites to 7468 or 38% out of 19, 409 total camp sites. This number increased in 2013 by 118 bringing the total electrified campsites to 7586 or 39%.

Ontario Parks is committed to its legislated mandate to maintain ecological integrity and protect the natural and cultural resources in provincial parks. Maintaining ecological integrity has many benefits to the environment, including providing habitat for flora and fauna as well as improving air quality. Provincial parks also provide carbon sequestration whereby trees absorb carbon dioxide, release oxygen and store carbon; this reduces the carbon dioxide in the environment.

Within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, 77 provincial parks have been identified as target facilities. The determination was based upon the following criteria: a) Operating provincial parks only; b) Park operations controlled by the MNR and; c) Park electricity consumption ≥ 10,000 kWhs / year (equivalent to annual consumption for the average Ontario home).

Ontario Parks as a whole has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 15% since 2006.

The vast majority of the non-park related buildings occupied by MNR have facility management provided by MOI and reporting on these buildings should be viewed in this context.

Energy Consumption Overview (See appendix A for park by park consumption)


It is difficult to measure progress within Ontario Parks due to high levels of annual variation in utility meters measurement. Several parks only had their hydro meters read once over a period of nearly two years; this makes it difficult to evaluate the energy consumed in any given year.

The MNR and Ontario Parks are reporting on a location by location basis, not a building by building basis. The number of individual buildings within the 77 reportable parks makes it unfeasible to report on each building. At most parks there is only one hydro meter rather than individual meters for each building.

Many of the parks that have been designated as target facilities do not have electrical smart meters. These parks experience fluctuations in perceived consumption due to the inconsistent timing of hydro meter readings. As the designated parks are moved onto a smart meter the quality of the consumption data will improve. This will help correct fluctuations due to electricity use estimates and actual meter readings.

For propane and fuel oil the consumption data may be misleading in instances where parks have filled their tanks at the end of a calendar year because there may not be a need to have the tank filled for the next calendar year. For example, if a park filled their heating oil tanks near the end of December 2009 the park may not need to fill their tanks again until January 2011, this makes it appear as though the park didn’t consume any fuel oil during the calendar year of 2010.

Craigleith Provincial Park and Ferris Provincial Park had been contracted to third party service providers prior to 2006; these two parks have resumed being operated by Ontario Parks. As such, there is no consumption data for these parks for 2006 which is the baseline year for measurement and comparisons. Similarly, if other parks that are currently being run by third party service providers return to being operated by Ontario Parks, the baseline number in 2006 will need to be re-evaluated so that targets and savings reflect the increased level of operations.

Energy Conservation Measures (including renewables):

Energy conservation and other green building technology play an important part in all of MNR’s capital projects. These projects have led to improved operational efficiency, mitigated rising energy costs, and supported the Government’s goal of reducing Ontario’s energy consumption.

In non-public-facing buildings, Ontario Parks has implemented many energy conservation measures. These measures include air conditioning levels set at 26 °C or warmer, heating set to 21 °C in offices or cooler in non-office areas, energy efficient appliances and lighting and motion-activated lights. All new buildings are designed for maximum energy efficiency.

In public-facing buildings Ontario Parks has implemented many energy conservation measures including: motion-activated lighting, energy efficient lighting, appliances and hand-dryers, solar hot water assist systems and propane tankless water heaters. Increased ambient lighting has been implemented in many buildings across the provincial park system; increasing the ambient lighting reduces the need for electrical lighting in buildings during daylight hours. Ontario Parks has installed low-volume toilets, low-flow shower heads, shower timers and is investigating the re-use of shower/sink grey-water in toilet systems at comfort stations.

Energy-efficient hand-dryers consume approximately 85% less power than older hand-dryers. Propane tankless water heaters use approximately 8 to 14% less energy than propane tank water heaters. Solar hot water assist systems save 25% on the energy required to heat water.

Composting toilets have been installed in several provincial parks as an alternative to vault privies. These toilets are odourless, waterless, biologically treat waste, have low energy requirements (typically solar powered) and low maintenance requirements. These toilets rarely need to have sewage removed; this saves greenhouse gas emissions from sewage pumping trucks as well as the related treatment of this waste at a treatment facility. Algonquin Provincial Park’s “Greenfit Strategy”, based on MNR’s Our Sustainable Future, identifies sewage treatment as a priority area towards improving the human health and protection of the park’s natural environment. The Greenfit Strategy identifies more use of composting toilets to reduce the amount of sewage requiring treatment. The park has chosen the Phoenix Composting Toilet, which has met the following criteria: Odourless; waterless; biological treatment of waste; low power requirements; low maintenance. Restoule Provincial Park added two of these toilets in 2010, complete with a solar panel which operates a fan to vent off odour. Annually combined they save $1190.00 in service fees.

Ontario Parks has been using Clivus Multrum's composting toilets with limited application for over 16 years and will continue, in some parks, to replace existing vault privies with composting toilets.

Several provincial parks have created wetland lagoons and reed filter beds for the treatment of septic waste. These systems provide a high quality of treatment for septic waste while having lower energy consumption than traditional packaged aerobic sewage treatment plants. Constructed wetlands and reed filter beds also provide media for the growth of greenery such as cattails and reeds which provide carbon sequestration. Algonquin Provincial Park has septage management through the use of vertical reed bed filters with native vegetation to achieve major reductions of BOD5, total suspended solids, phosphorus and nitrogen prior to final effluent treatment in a septic system. This is an innovative and natural treatment concept for handling septage for Algonquin, as well as other large, remote parks and communities.

Algonquin Provincial Park has implemented a waste management system that has increased the park’s waste diversion rate over the past six years. This waste management system has been combined with the MOLOK deep collection waste receptacles that have an in-ground design that allows for the collection of more waste/recycling than regular waste receptacles. This reduces the frequency of emptying the receptacles which lowers the emissions associated with the garbage trucks. In 2012, Algonquin Provincial Park was awarded the Eco Recognition Award from the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario for its waste management system. Algonquin’s upgraded waste management system has doubled the park’s waste diversion rate (waste diverted from a landfill).

In 1999 The Friends of Misery Bay (FOMB), in partnership with Ontario Parks constructed an “eco-friendly” Visitor Centre on the edge of the rare Alvar habitat. The facility was designed and constructed to be “green” and features ten 200 Watt solar panels, twenty-four 6 Volt AGM (absorbed glass mat) batteries and a 48 Volt inverter - which produces 1200 amp/hours of power daily. The facility also features a concrete slab floor and a large southern facing bank of windows that provide indirect passive solar heating as well as an “eco-flow” peat bio-filter septic field.

Killarney Provincial Park uses solar power for their interior radio communications. The friends of Killarney have installed a free for park users re-charging station for their mobile and electronic devices. Solar power is also used to run the maintenance building and Roofed accommodations which saves electricity costs for three seasons (spring, summer and fall).

18 Solar panels were installed at Mississagi Provincial Park, 6 of these were on the generator building. This has reduced the need for diesel fuel to power the generators by 50%. The reduction of generator hours has also saved on maintenance and repair costs for the generator.

Fushimi Provincial Park (located near Hornepayne) has installed a solar grid power system that has not only eliminated the need for outside hydro but has also allowed the park to sell back this green energy to Ontario Hydro.

The visitor centre at Killbear Provincial Park was constructed in 2004 as a multi-purpose facility. This building is two stories with the lower level partially below grade. The exterior walls are of steel construction with R-12 insulation. The roof of the building is also steel construction with R-40 insulation. The mechanical systems for heating and cooling this building are provided through heat pumps controlled by thermostats located throughout the building. The heat pumps are connected through two main circulating pumps to a piping system that extends to a submerged heat exchanger located in Georgian Bay. A closed loop of condenser water sits five metres below the water’s surface. This loop feeds through 11 high-efficiency heat pumps inside the visitor centre. This system has eliminated the need for the visitor centre to have a supplementary boiler or cooling tower. The washrooms are exhausted through roof mounted fans. Hot water is provided through two propane fired water heaters. All urinals and water closets in the building are low consumption flush valve and all lavatories have low consumption faucets. The exterior lighting is controlled by photocells while parking lot lights are controlled by a timer. Zinc panels were used to cover the exterior walls and roof which require less structural steel for support than other panel systems. Large overhangs shield the windows from unwanted heat absorbed from sunlight.

The art gallery at Algonquin Provincial Park is having a ‘green’ roof installed as a pilot project. This flat roof is constructed with a waterproof membrane and a mixture of aggregates and soil on top. This provides additional insulation which lowers the energy required to heat and cool the building. This small pilot design and construction project should enable Ontario Parks to use this technology when designing new buildings.

Ontario Parks has also targeted the replacement of 2-stroke motors in grounds-keeping equipment with 4-stroke motors that produce lower emissions. Ontario Parks’ fleet renewal strategy has included electric and hybrid vehicles wherever feasible. Electric ATVs are now in use at several parks.

Ontario Parks has also explored and selectively implemented the use of alternative energy such as hydroelectric, windpower and photovoltaic array energy.

Ontario Parks has designed and is currently investigating the grey water recycling system for urinals and toilets at a comfort station in The Pinery Provincial Park. This could represent up to 50% savings in water demand and sewage flows at this municipally connected park. This pilot project could be applied across the Ontario Parks system as there could be a dramatic reduction on the environmental impact from septic systems, especially where there is insufficient developable area or poor quality soil conditions.

Ontario Parks is currently implementing or in the process of designing many green features for all future large comfort stations. These include: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accredited electric hand dryers; solar light tubes and increased natural lighting in the main washrooms; motion and light sensors in the main washrooms, motion sensors in the unisex shower stalls; low flow water fixtures; instantaneous on demand propane water heaters (unless cold water supply has high hardness). A potential project would be to retrofit all remaining campground comfort station electric hand dryers with LEED accredited electric hand dryers. Ontario Parks has completed a standard design for solar hot water assist systems which in 2012 was implemented at the three The Pinery Provincial Park comfort stations and at Killbear Provincial Park’s Beaver Dams comfort station. In 2011, a new comfort station was built with skylights at Restoule Provincial Park. These skylights increase natural lighting, therefore less money is on electrical costs. In 2014/15 Point Farms constructed comfort station included hot water tanks heated by solar panels.


In fiscal 2006-07, Ontario Parks committed $250,000 towards energy efficiency projects. In fiscal 2007-08, $175,000 was spent on these projects. In fiscal 2008-09, $630,000 was committed to projects with a goal to improve energy efficiency; many parks completed lighting upgrades to install energy efficient lighting in buildings. In fiscal 2009-10, Ontario Parks committed over $380,000 towards projects designed to conserve energy. In fiscal 2010-11, Ontario Parks committed $1,625,600 towards projects to conserve energy/greening facilities projects, including $900,000 towards the reed filter bed at Algonquin Provincial Park. In fiscal 2011-12, $875,000 was spent on energy/green projects, including $775,000 at Rock Point Provincial Park and Point Farms Provincial Park for constructed wetlands projects. In fiscal year 2012-13 $314,000 was spent on Green Initiative Projects such as hot water tanks with on demand heaters; replace exterior lights with LED & or low wattage HPS; installation of dusk/dawn timers replacing lighting that is currently 24hr units; replace commercial coin op washer/dryers with E-star units; install solar panel battery bank critical to operate a facility; installed wind turbine to off-set electrical charges as well as new building & sewage projects totaling $3,000,000 that are very efficient in their use of water and electricity. In fiscal 2013/14 $36,000 was earmarked for the replacement of commercial coin operated washer/dryers with E-star units and EE solar panels and water heaters. In fiscal 2014/15 $168,000 was spent on EE furnace, doors, lighting, insulated siding as well as hot water tanks with on demand heaters.

Other examples of ministry-related measures:

  • Solar photovoltaic panels were installed at MNR’s Dryden Airport Facility
  • The Fish Culture Program continues to pursue greener technologies wherever possible. The recent reconstruction of the Dorion Fish Culture Station, while doubling capacity, also incorporated energy conservation efficiencies into its design. With the exception of an emergency power generator and vehicles, Dorion FCS produces no greenhouse gases in its operation. These energy conservation measures exceed the Model National Energy Code for Buildings of Natural Resources Canada, resulting in significantly lower energy costs than would occur with conventional construction.
  • Redesign and reconstruction of the Normandale Fish Culture Station included application of the Canada Green Building Council LEED Green Building Rating System, with the intent to achieve Silver rating for this project.
  • Robinson Place (MNR building in Peterborough) has undergone many environmental initiatives aimed at increasing energy efficiencies, conserving water, and contributing to a healthier work environment. The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) awarded Robinson Place “The Outstanding Building of the Year” (TOBY) award for 2011 in the government building category. As the major tenant, MNR supported this initiative undertaken by Infrastructure Ontario (IO) and Commercial Real Estate Services (CBRE), and continues to support similar initiatives lead by IO.

Conservation Forecasting and Long Term Plan :

Ontario Parks is committed to improving the energy efficiency of its buildings. The actual energy consumed and the associated greenhouse gas emissions are heavily dependent on the volume of visitors and weather for any given year; this makes it very difficult to assign and achieve a target reduction for any park location. The Ontario Parks’ 2010 – 2015 Strategic Direction identifies the organization as being a Green Leader managing our resources.

MNR’s long term planning for tangible capital asset projects takes into account facility and infrastructure age and condition, provincial and MNR corporate direction, greenhouse gas and energy consumption reduction initiatives, and green building priorities.

Communication and Awareness:

Ontario Parks has developed a climate change component for Natural Heritage Education (NHE) programs. These programs educate park visitors on ways they can minimize their environmental impact and what Ontario Parks is doing to help slow climate change and conserve energy.

Several parks have also been promoting the Park Once campaign that encourages visitors to leave their vehicle on their campsite or at the parking lot and to walk or cycle throughout the park. This campaign is aimed at reducing the greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles travelling through the parks.

Ontario Parks has approved and adopted a Go For Green Strategy that sets the branch’s strategy to enhance Ontario Parks as a green corporate citizen within the Ontario Public Service and to demonstrate a green organization to the general public. This Go For Green Strategy outlines specific tactics that Ontario Parks will use to green. These include: allocating capital funding to energy conservation retrofits, energy efficient vehicles/equipment and renewable energy projects; designing new buildings for maximum energy efficiency, locating new infrastructure that considers energy conservation, short roads, providing visitors the option of walking or using bicycles to travel within the park.

Green initiatives were developed and the objectives were to increase energy efficiencies; reduce costs; reduce emissions; reduce waste and increase recycling. The guidelines focused on parks with high utility bills, older buildings, high use and year-round use, older large vehicle fleets; remote park locations where conventional sources of power require alternative choice; project is compatible and in compliance with the Park Management Plan; and the initiative has to be practical and reasonable for the park.

Themes and potential projects that were chosen were relative to renewable electricity supply; energy efficiencies and conservation; reducing harmful emissions (e.g.CO2 emissions, recycling, innovation and technology).

2014 GHG Report

Reporting Entity2006 Tonnes CO2e2013 Tonnes CO2e2014 Tonnes CO2e2006 vs 20142006 vs 20132013 vs 2014
IO -AFPN/A12,11812,721N/AN/A5%

Ontario Parks Consumption

Energy TypeAnnual Total ConsumptionUnit of Measure
Natural Gas37,544.60m3
Diesel/Fuel Oil (#2)106,642.05L