RDEK votes down campground proposal

Proposed campground on property near Jimsmith Lake gets nixed by regional government.

A proposed commercial campsite in the Jimsmith Lake area will not proceed after the RDEK voted to deny a rezoning amendment that would’ve permitted it.

The property, a 1.7 hectare parcel adjacent to Jimsmith Lake Rd and Laidlaw Rd. is currently zoned rural residential that the landowner wished to change to recreation commercial to accommodate a 15-site campground.

RDEK board chair Rob Gay, who represents Area C — which is within the jurisdiction of the proposed campsite — opposed the zoning change because of neighbouring opposition and that it didn’t fit with RDEK campground policy.

“One of the key things in that regulation is that a campground has to be a minimum of 4 hectares or 10 acres, and that was agreed by all the operators, that they need that much,” Gay said.

Wendy Booth, Area F director, echoed the same sentiment during the debate.

“We spent a lot of time doing this campground bylaw thing in 2013, lots of consultation, lots of conversation about the size, how many sites, servicing and that sort of thing and this proposal does not meet that requirement,” Booth said.

“That’s a key point and for that reason, I won’t be supporting this.”

The proposal garnered a lot of feedback, both from a public hearing and in the form of letters. Gay said that 65 people attended a public hearing — 29 for the proposal, 36 against — while 514 written submissions were accepted. All told, there seemed to be 146 in support of the campground and 316 against the proposal.

Letters of support noted the lack of available campsites in the area and encouraging small business growth. Letters of opposition listed concerns on noise, traffic safety and the proximity to residential neighbourhoods.

Cranbrook mayor Lee Pratt said there is a need for more campgrounds in the area and was the lone supportive vote at the board table.

“I support this. I’ve been to the site, I’ve looked at it. I think it’s going to be a nice little campground,” Pratt said.

“…In this case, I don’t see a big negative on it, there is a big need. As far as support and opposition letters, a lot of them, in my mind, were irrelevant. They’re not even close by. I would pay attention to the immediate neighbours, which a couple were fine with it, some weren’t.

“I think the reason that there were so many letters is because someone took it upon themselves to make it a real issue and then it almost became a vendetta to stop it.”

Gay also said the board was not against camping, however, the campsite proposal doesn’t fit the land use on that particular piece of property, given the zoning of nearby properties.

“That’s the good thing about zoning bylaws, is that you can’t change zoning without going to the public,” Gay said.

“…We had over 500 letters and it was about a two-to-one opposed to support it. So that’s a very clear indication to elected officials that these people do not want it. It’s not about the people, it’s about the land use and to put a commercial land use in a rural area just did not fit with the people.”