A note from the ON/NO Board of Directors

The National Capital Commission (NCC) recently conducted a public consultation process on the future of Gatineau Park to provide input into the renewal of the Gatineau Park Master Plan. The Master Plan, which is updated every ten years, provides a 50-year vision for the Park and will guide the Park’s management over the next decade until the Master Plan is once again updated. Information on the public consultation process can be found on the NCC website at http://ncc-ccn.gc.ca/our-plans/gatineau-park-master-plan.

As part of this consultation process, the NCC conducted two public workshops -- one in Ottawa on October 19, 2017 and one in Gatineau on November 1, 2017. An online survey was also available on the NCC website from October 19, 2017 to November 14, 2017.

In our Bylaws, two objectives of ON/NO are:

  • to promote the advancement and acceptance of naturism in the region; and
  • to communicate the concerns of naturists to the pertinent levels of authority.

In support of these objectives, ON/NO encouraged its members to attend the workshops and/or complete the survey advocating that nude recreation be included as a recognized use of the park. While this public consultation phase has officially closed, the public may always communicate their views to the NCC at any time. Contact information may be found on the NCC's Contact Us page.

The survey, consisting of four free-form questions, collected no personally identifiable information. Click here to see the questions that were asked in the survey.

Here is some background on naturism in Gatineau Park.

Even before the creation of the park, the area occupied by the park was a mecca for those who enjoyed swimming naked and basking naked in the sun. In the 1980s, an area of the park was officially designated for nude sunbathing. Although this official status was short-lived, nude recreational activities had been quietly tolerated in the park for over 75 years until 2011-2012 when police arrested naturist users of the park in a number of extremely insensitive and heavy-handed operations.

Despite priding itself on welcoming recreational uses of all kinds, the NCC excludes nude recreation. A recent survey done for the Federation of Canadian Naturists found that 21% of Canadians had participated in public nude recreational activities and 25% would consider doing so. Through its anti-naturist stance, the NCC is closing the door to a very sizable segment of Canadians.

Naturism activities like swimming and sunbathing have significantly lower environmental impact than many of the activities currently allowed in the park such as mountain bike trail riding and rock climbing. The NCC recently carried out a shoreline restoration project on Meech Lake that notably did not include the parts used by naturists for many years as they did not require restoration.

In 2011, the NCC declared a ‘zero tolerance’ policy to any sort of nudism in the park and wrote to ON/NO and to the FCN to demand that website notes concerning Meech Lake be removed. The justification was the ‘many complaints’ lodged by other park users although the number and content of these complaints was never revealed.

There are two ways to avoid such complaints. One is to ban nudism everywhere and post signs quoting Section 174 of the criminal code. The second is to not ban nudism and to post signs in designated and more remote areas alerting hikers to the possible presence of nude swimmers and sunbathers.

In managing the park, the NCC collaborates with numerous recreational groups. ON/NO would be pleased to work with the NCC in developing and implementing a plan to integrate nude recreational uses into the park.

If you do participate in this process either by attending a workshop, filling out the survey, or through other means of communication, please let us know at communications@onno.ca. We would also invite you to share with us your thoughts on this matter as well as any input that you provide to the NCC.

— The Board of Directors, Ottawa Naturists/Naturistes de l'Outaouais