Great Lakes Ontario Recreation

Great Lakes Communities and Ecosystems at RiskThe Regionspacer
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• Climate in the Region
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Climate Change in Ontario
White Trilliun
Climate Projections
Forests & Wildlife
Human Health
Lakes, Streams, & Fish
Property and Infrastructure
Recreation & Tourism
Water Supply & Pollution
Wetlands & Shorebirds
Climate Solutions
Resources & Links

Climate Change Impacts:
Recreation and Tourism

Tourism is one of the province's top income—producing service industries, tallying $7.7 billion in 2000. Parks from Point Pelee to Lake Superior drew more than 11 million visitors in 2001, including birders, hikers, cottagers, boaters, hunters, winter sports enthusiasts, and beach goers who are drawn to Ontario's lakeshores and inland waters. Climate change will affect each of these areas, and therefore the type of recreational experiences available in Ontario.

The most certain impacts of climate change will be on winter sport activities. Communities and businesses dependent on revenues from winter sports could be hard hit. Some of these communities and businesses, however, may make up the loss by expanding warm weather tourism and recreation. Among the potential impacts with implications for recreation and tourism in Ontario are:

  • A Change in the Distribution of Fish Species
    Flyfishing in OntarioAs waters warm, the types of fish species that inhabit them will likely change. Increases or declines of preferred catch will affect anglers on the Great Lakes and inland lakes. The range of warm-water fish, such as bluegill and smallmouth bass, are likely to expand northward, while cold-water species, such as lake trout and brook trout, and even some cool-water fish, such as walleye, may significantly decline.

  • A Loss of Bird Diversity
    A warming climate will drive complex changes in habitat, food resources, and other factors that will likely diminish bird diversity. The loss of habitat and food resources for migratory songbirds, shorebirds, and waterfowl will affect Ontario's multimillion-dollar birdwatching and hunting industries.

  • A Degraded Winter Recreation Experience
    Warmer winters mean trouble for Ontario, where winter recreation has long been an integral part of people's sense of place. Communities and businesses dependent on revenues from cross-country or downhill skiing, snowmobiling, and, especially ice fishing, could be hard-hit.

  • An Expanded Summer Recreation Season, with Risks
    Kayaker As temperatures warm further, extreme heat, extreme storms, elevated ozone levels, and possible increases in risk from insect- and waterborne diseases will affect beachgoers and boaters and may involve some restrictions as well as require behavioral adjustments by tourists and local outdoor enthusiasts.

Photo Credits:
White Trillium -- Ohio Department of Natural Rescources, Mike Williams and Tim Daniel.
Flyfishing in Ontario -- Courtesy of David Suzuki Foundation.
Kayaker --Courtesy of David Suzuki Foundation.
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