The potential that camping will be allowed at Centennial Park hasn’t been well-received news for all local business owners.
“It’ll affect all motels and campgrounds,” Lake Cowichan Lodge proprietor Bruce Chisholm said. “It’s taking money out of everybody’s pockets.”
The business owner’s response comes a couple weeks after the Town of Lake Cowichan’s elected officials re-opened the books on the issue of Centennial Park camping during a Tuesday, March 15, committee meeting.
At this time, mayor Ross Forrest and councillor Bob Day shared with council that they had met with Cowichan Rocks Curling Club president Thor Repstock, who is in favour of the town allowing camping at Centennial Park.
If not, Repstock cautioned, the club’s annual Summer Bonspiel may have to be cancelled, as many people come, in part, because of the camping opportunity within short walking distance of the rinks.
Last year, mayor and council unanimously agreed that it would be the last year for camping at Centennial Park.
“It’s not a campground,” Chisholm said. “Why should the town be supporting this?”
As for Repstock’s argument that allowing camping is an important safety issue, due to the consumption of alcohol associated with the bonspiel, Chisholm said, “Get a bus.”
“People stay at the hotel go downtown and have drinks, and they have to find a way back.”
It’s been tough economical times, Chisholm said, making it all the more important that the town support local businesses.
“I kind of have mixed feelings, but as a business person, if all of the campgrounds are filled to capacity, my point of view may change,” Beaver Lake Resort Campground owner Jim Humphrey said.
During last year’s Summer Bonspiel, Humphrey said that several of his campsites were left vacant, while curlers set up at Centennial Park.
“I didn’t build a campground at Cowichan Lake to go into competition with local government,” he said.
“It’s a very difficult time… I was quite happy last year when council made it clear that it was the last year for camping.”
The introduction of the HST, the raising of minimum wage, and a huge jump in property taxes will all affect his business, this year.
Humphrey made it clear during the interview that he spoke on behalf of himself, as a campground owner, and not from the perspective of the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce, which he presides over.
Most businesses in the Cowichan Lake area will not be negatively affected by the allowance of camping at Centennial Park, he said, in that people will buy gas, food, and other commodities in the area, regardless of where they spend the night.
The Centennial Park land is zoned as P-1, which allows for a municipal campground.
The issue of camping at Centennial Park will be raised again during future Town of Lake Cowichan meetings.
It’s expected that various interested stakeholders provide their input to the town’s elected officials, to help them make a decision on the matter.