Camping and outdoors recreation are resuming at Gregoire Lake Provincial Park following two years of extensive repairs, rebuilding and redevelopment.
Celebrated for its lovely campsites and unique opportunities for canoeing, fishing, hiking, swimming and more, Gregoire Lake Provincial Park was badly damaged by the 2016 Horse River wildfire. The Government of Alberta has since invested more than $8 million into redeveloping the park, including $1.6 million this year.
An estimated 2,000 people visited the day-use area and boat launch each day over the May long weekend, the first weekend the park was reopened to the public since 2016.
“Gregoire Lake is one of the most popular provincial parks in northern Alberta, with the lake being a prime destination for boating. Many Fort McMurray residents evacuated to safe places inside the park as they fled the 2016 wildfires. I know Alberta families have missed visiting it over the past two years, which is why I’m so pleased our government invested in not only rebuilding the park, but revitalizing it to make it even better than before.”
~Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks
“I was at the park the day Fort McMurray was evacuated. It was an incredibly emotional day, so it was an unbelievable experience to welcome everyone – including some of the very same people who evacuated here in 2016 – back to the park. Gregoire Lake Provincial Park is incredibly important to the residents of Fort McMurray, and I couldn’t be more proud of all of the people who dedicated significant time and energy to ensure it was open.”
~Shyla Wiest, Alberta Parks area manager, Athabasca-Fort McMurray, Northeast Division
This year’s investment will fund additional repairs and upgrades such as the construction and installation of shelters in the group-use camping sites, electrification of the group-use camping sites and completion of all fire-related repairs and reconstruction.
The reopening of the park will also support tourism in the region. Since the 2016 Horse River wildfire, tourism in the Fort McMurray area has begun to make a strong comeback. In 2017, visitor inquiries increased more than 30 per cent for the Wood Buffalo Region. Recreational opportunities such as those offered in Gregoire Lake are key in building a strong tourism industry in the area, which has a young, vibrant population.
“Our community is recovering from the 2016 wildfire and tourism is coming back stronger than ever. Parks like the one at Gregoire Lake offer stellar fishing opportunities, family-friendly camping and serene wilderness trails—complete with a view of the mesmerizing aurora borealis. These experiences, in turn, drive both local residents and travellers from across the province, country and world to see and do everything there is to offer in and around Fort McMurray, and that’s a lot.”
~Frank Creasey, CEO, Fort McMurray Tourism Ltd.
Visitors to Gregoire Lake will be able to enjoy:
- Expanded and improved group camping (opening in 2019).
- Expanded and improved day-use facilities.
- Repaved and widened roads for improved visitor safety.
- Campsites with 30 amp electrical service.
- Expanded day-use and boat launch parking lots.
- New shower building, with a check-in office and concession, which will be available later this summer.
The funding for Gregoire Lake Provincial Park is part of the province’s more than $37 million investment in Parks Capital, Maintenance and Renewal in Budget 2018.