Editor: Mr. Joe Dorey has responded to a letter suggesting we should remove the recent ban on camping behind Centennial Hall with an unworthy diatribe about the effect of the noise on him personally and a trio of specious incidents to support his argument. I must respectfuly submit that his position is unworthy of him and cannot be justified by the facts.
To remove the supporting incidents first, before we address the central complaint:
How the noise of the Arena expansion relates to camping for special events escapes me; it does not apply to the issue under discussion. Neither do the apparently untrue complaints about the motocross event since, even if the allegations that the Motor Vehicle Act has been violated are true, that has no bearing on how and where the contestants spent the night.
Illegal campfires have been alleged, although evidence suggest otherwise. At least this accusation, however unproven, is relevant to the issue under discussion, as is that of public urination.
Both potential nuisances must be addressed in any discussion of special events camping. Provision must be made for temporary sanitary facilities and site supervision in any permit for such use.
Since this is regularly done in thousands of other venues under the same circumstances I submit that these arguments may also be considered moot.
As someone who lives directly across the road from the Mesachie Lake ballfield and lost two nights of sleep to last week’s Firefighters ball tournament I can sympathize, but we both knew before we bought our homes that the public facilities were there and would be used. This is the equivalent of buying an apartment on the harbour and then whining about the noise of the seaplanes, or moving into the country and demanding the next door neighbours silence their rooster. Mr. Dorey should have understood the consequences when he bought the house.
Having disposed, I submit, of every complaint against the use of this area for camping, may we now turn to the benefits this use can provide to the community as a whole? A central campsite area is an essential to staging a successful weekend festival of any kind.
Participants travel varied distances to these events and plan to stay throughout in motor home or tent. They will be happier in a central organized location and we will be happier if they are not parked all over town or sleeping in the bushes; this is an easy win/win situation, because without the communal area and related facilities the problems dealt with two paragraphs above become epidemic.
The alternative is to discourage festivals of any nature that would attract outside public interest. I wonder how our business community feels about that?
The visitors who come for the sport or music of their choice spend a significant chunk of change while they are here in a time when when customers are growing scarce. Surely an event that brings five hundred or more visitors who must buy groceries, meals and other sundries is desirable to the local store owners and their employees? I submit that, despite the inconvenience to some neighbours, the potential public benefit vastly outweighs their concerns.
I will confess that I have an interest in the resumption of such camping.
Music festivals require exactly such a campground; they provide the patrons with a common area where they can mingle and also jam until the small hours.
In Princeton they have an annual Traditional Music Festival that brings in a thousand guests for the weekend, and Princeton is in the middle of nowhere. Given how close Lake Cowichan is to the large population centers and our excellent potential venues a similar event should be able to draw twice that many, but the audience must have a place to overnight and behind the Arena has been and still is the ideal place.
This is not new. The area can be monitored, and a reasonable fee can be charged that can be used to cover the costs of the festival itself, incuding those related to site use. There are literally thousands of these events already using a very simple format that introduces various enthusiasts to their communities and brings otherwise unreachable dollars into local cash registers, but before we can organize anything like this we need to agree that camping will be allowed as it was formerly, under controlled conditions. The sooner we have this discussion and reverse the current nimby driven policy the sooner we can get working.
Mayor Forrest and Council would no doubt appreciate hearing every opinion on this issue. Let them know how you feel, because they are rightly affected by public input.
Editor’s note: Since this letter has been written, camping has been reinstated at Centennial Park for special events (see Page 5).