Sicamous council has turned down a temporary use permit application to set up a private campground in close proximity to a public school.
Last week, a public hearing was held in council chambers in relation to a temporary use permit (TUP) application by Jaltia Management Corp. – owned and operated by Sicamous Mayor Darrell Trouton – that would allow temporary seasonal camping at 727 Parksville St.
The campground would have been open between April 1 and Oct. 31 and limited to 50 unserviced sites, intended for self-contained recreational vehicles.
The TUP would have been for one year, and renewable for two additional years.
Criticisms of the project were first expressed in written submissions, read aloud by district administrator Heidi Frank. These letters raised a battery of concerns relating to noise, pollution, security, the fact water and electricity would not be provided, and the campground’s close proximity to Parkview Elementary. One argued the applicant (who was not present – the meeting was chaired by Coun. Greg Kyllo) was in a conflict of interest, while another questioned why the hearing wasn’t advertised in the local paper. The district had also received a petition signed by 47 people opposing the campground, as well as letters of opposition from School District #83 and Parkview PAC president Jackie Munro.
SD #83 Sicamous/Malakwa trustee Barry Chafe was first to speak at the hearing. He first commented on how the TUP’s guideline for the use of portable generators is in direct conflict with Sicamous’s own noise bylaw. He also expressed his concern that the campground could wind up being used as a “ low-cost housing alternative for migrant workers.” His greatest concern, however, was how the campground would have provided “easy view and access to the entire playground area of Parkview Elementary.”
“Given my 24-plus years experience as an RCMP officer, and my involvement in this community since 1991, I feel I am more than qualified to speak on a matter of crime and crime prevention…,” said Chafe, adding most criminal activity revolves around opportunity. “Exposing your elementary (school) to a business with a large transient population, for me, is not a very sound decision.
“I’ve heard the argument from some, because these are larger, self-contained units, the people who own these units have money. I hate to destroy the illusion, because that’s what in fact it is. The size of your bank account and your personal moral fibres are many times not proportional. I’ve seen and heard throughout my career some very wealthy people do some very disturbing things.”
Garry Devos and Dawn Backs were concerned about the safety and impact traffic generated by the campground would have, while Janna Simons reiterated the question of why the hearing was advertised in the Lakeshore News twice, and not in the “local paper,” as confirmed by Kyllo, the Eagle Valley News.
Peter Powell, the last speaker, said he thought it a good idea to put a campground in Sicamous. But he added that he and his wife – both avid campers – never stayed in a campground that didn’t at least have toilets available. He noted this lack of services would only increase traffic – RVers going to dump their sewage and pick up water. Agreeing with other concerns raised, Powell too concluded that the location “is just totally wrong.”
Coun. Don Richardson did not concur. After the hearing, he said he was in favour of the campground, and that he didn’t understand the concern with transients.
“The transients there, they are in motorhomes or whatever, to me it’s a different calibre of people,” said Richardson, the only councillor to vote in favour of granting the TUP.
Coun. Charlotte Hutchinson said she thought maybe the campground could work as it would provide a place to stay when ball tournaments are held at Finlayson Park. But after consideration, she added her opposition to the location in relation to the school.
Coun. Fred Busch had his own reason for opposing the campground.
“Having worked at the houseboat kiosk this summer and dealing with tourists, they are interested in campsites that have full facilities, certainly to have water facilities and places where they can empty their holding tanks,” said Busch. “This campsite simply doesn’t offer that. And I, as a tourist advisor, would find it very difficult to recommend this place except as a last resort.”
The only councillor to not cast a vote was Terry Rysz who, while appreciative of residents’ concerns, viewed the campground as an economic generator – a way of keeping people in the community. Noting Golden has a municipal campground near a high school, he suggested more time be taken for consultation, “to do a little more research and discuss it with other communities and see what their concerns are.”
Though council has turned down the application, the applicant may reapply for the TUP in another six months.