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Conservation Halton Parks open with innovative reservation tech to reduce crowding

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Last weekend, Conservation Halton opened their gates to five of their seven parks—Crawford Lake, Hilton Falls, Rattlesnake Point, Mount Nemo and Kelso Summit—to members and the public, using a new reservation system, which is now required to visit the parks. Friday, May 22 to Sunday, May 24 was the first weekend that visitors were allowed in the parks and there were about 6,500 reservations, with more than 17,000 visitors.

The reservation system was developed in response to COVID-19, so that Conservation Halton would be able to create the conditions for physical distancing, but Conservation Halton hoped that reservations would offer a number of other benefits, even once things are back to normal. Conservation Halton says that the system will improve the experience of visiting their parks and reduce the impact that visitors have on their parks.

The reservation system should also help prevent situations like the one that took place in Trinity Bellwoods Park. Toronto resident, Aashish Oberoi, lives just five minutes from Trinity Bellwoods, but he decided to make a reservation for a visit to Mount Nemo on Sunday, instead.

“Toronto is a fantastic city but one hundred years of ignoring the need for green space is coming back to bite us,” Oberoi says. “If I want to find some peace and quiet in nature, my only choices are going to the ravines in Etobicoke or leaving the city entirely. I’m doing the latter more and more. I am beyond impressed with how Conservation Halton has handled this. I was hoping someone would implement a reservation system.”

Now, with their first week behind them, Conservation Halton says they will use the information they have collected through the reservation system to make improvements, such as adjusting reservation times and offering exclusive reservation spaces for members, seniors and healthcare workers.

“We have talked about a reservation system for years. When we closed the parks, due to COVID-19, it didn’t suddenly become convenient, but it was suddenly necessary for us to manage our parks in a more efficient and sustainable way,” says Hassaan Basit, Chief Administrative Officer at Conservation Halton. “Thanks to the dedication and innovation of our team, we now have one of the most data-rich, user-friendly systems for multi-park, day-use reservation in Ontario, and we are quite proud of that. This system uses an integrated software platform, license plate scanners, touchless payment and automatic gates to provide access to nature for our community, without compromising on physical distancing.”

Quick Facts:

  • 87 percent of reservations were made for hiking
  • 48 percent of reservations were made by Conservation Halton members
  • 62 percent of visitors were from Halton—others were from as far away as Niagara Falls and Ajax
  • 96 percent of visitors said they would recommend the reserved park visits to a friend
  • Visitors rated the “overall” reservation and visitation experience 4.6 out of 5 stars

Quick Links:

Conservation Halton would like to welcome members of the media to Crawford Lake Conservation Area on Thursday, May 28 at 10am to learn more about the new reservation system and other technology, such as license plate scanning, automatic gates and real-time capacity monitoring. Please RSVP to kskillen@hrca.on.ca

Media Contact:

Katie Skillen
Associate Director, Marketing and Communications
Conservation Halton
Email: kskillen@hrca.on.ca

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