February 28th, 2022
In a final 5-2 vote and a three-year-long approval process, Council in the RM of McKillop approved Pam Macpheat’s campground. The only two to vote against the development were the two agricultural division Councillors, Luke Wild and Howard Arndt.
Macpheat said on approval, “I am ecstatic actually. It’s a long time waiting, and honestly, both the RM has done their due diligence, and I have too. I think this is good for everybody, and I’m glad it’s moving forward.”
She said it took so long because the rules were constantly changing in the RM. “…our taxes have to remain high because we don’t have enough commercial development. Sadly I think I might be one of the last ones to develop a campground for years to come. Because of the lengthy process and the financial process.”
The neighbouring resort village of Glen Harbour strongly opposed the campground, in part, because it will have no direct access to the lake, which would make their nearby community a logical choice for people to find access. Many residents of Glen Harbour voiced their concerns at a public hearing on February 7th. While beaches and boat launches are public, concerns around parking, overcrowding of the beach and boat launch, trespassing, and increased crime and noise dominated the public hearings.
Mayor of Glen Harbour Deb Kachluba was out of the country when LMT asked for her comments. She wrote, “On behalf of the Resort Village of Glen Harbour Council, we are extremely disappointed in the RM’s decision to approve this campground that was strongly opposed by both the residents of Glen Harbour who reside in the RM as well as the majority of adjacent tax paying land owners. There were many very valid concerns raised during the public hearing that negatively affect residents and land owners that did not get addressed. It appears that the RM’s decision was already made well in advance of any public hearing!”
Macpheat said, “Obviously, everybody can make a stink that they don’t like their neighbours. And I don’t like mine either, but it doesn’t change anything; everything still has got to move forward.”
Prior to voting, some councillors made comments about the development.
Councillor Don Whitrow said the location of the campground would be the most “strategic place that the RM could ever want…it’s low maintenance, low cost to the RM to have it there…Taxwise, we get a little bit. They are prepared to pay a service fee to help out with road maintenance.” Whitrow said rather than 10 miles of road “they’ve got [only] a mile of gravel road that we are going to have to worry about maintaining.” Whitrow voted yes.
Councillor Garry Gilbert said, “my phone has been ringing off the hook the last month” he said people for and against the development were calling. “…from the last survey, there is more people that do want it to happen than don’t. My biggest concern is to be true to the RM so I will vote in favour.” Gilbert voted yes.
Mark Strong remarked, “It goes back to responsible development in the RM. I think, right now, it is the prime spot in the RM to put a campground…and it brings in more tax revenue that is needed.” Strong voted yes.
Councillor Howard Arndt said because he couldn’t determine if it was the best location for a campground, he was voting against it. Arndt voted no.
While Councillor Bruce Bondar said he was thinking about the residents of Glen Harbour and the disruption it would bring them, he voted yes on the final vote.
Reeve Bob Schmidt said he didn’t anticipate the RM would receive many more campground applications because of the future development at Rowan’s Ravine Provincial Park. “I do believe that it is a good spot for a campground because it is limited in terms of what the costs would be to the RM” he cited funding towards road maintenance, that campers would be able to access the boat launch at Rowan’s ravine and because it would be a mature campground, he was hopeful it would be quieter. “There’s so many things for it and few against it, so I vote in favour.” Schmidt voted yes.
Councillor Garry Gilbert expressed what he saw as a spin-off benefit from the campground. “..that’s how half of these hamlets grew up. They went to Rowan’s Ravine, and they liked it and they looked for their own property. The RM lives off of revenue… this is a little bit of revenue …going toward our road upkeep, and it’s a place for people to get together and have fun and enjoy the area…. I think in the long run it will be the right decision…we are still moving forward not backwards.”
At the meeting, Council asked to restrict ATVs through the service agreement. Following the meeting, there have been questions as to what could and couldn’t be included in a service agreement, such as ATVs and Provincial Park passes that are required at Rowan’s Ridge RV resort. Acting CAO Camille Box said that “.Section 173(e) of The Planning and Development Act allows the RM to include in the agreement any matter deemed necessary. My interpretation of that clause would allow us to restrict motorized ATV use and prohibit any development of a road to MacPheat Park. It would be difficult to enforce restrictions on ATV use because it would be on private land. One avenue of enforcement would be the Campground Regulation Bylaw No. 425-2022. If the RM finds that the campground proprietor is not following the service agreement or their contract zoning we could withhold the issuance of a license to operate a campground. That would allow for a path of enforcement.”
Reeve Bob Schmidt said the agreement hasn’t been finalized but will become public once approved.
After the service agreement is signed, it will go to the Ministry for consideration with the subdivision. Macpheat is hoping to have the campground partially opened this summer.
By Jennifer Argue, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Mar 10, 2023 at 11:15