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SNAFU Halts Canadian Campground Expansion

July 1, 2009 by   - () Leave a Comment

The government in Canada’s Northwest Territories has been ordered to stop construction of a third loop at the Reid Lake campground after the federal government found out the work was being done without a land use permit, according to the Northern News Services.

The goal was to have the loop complete in time for this summer’s camping season, but that will have to wait until its construction is approved by the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board, said Kevin Todd, regional superintendent for the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment. 

The loop would’ve added 18 campsites to the park 35 miles outside of Yellowknife on the Ingraham Trail. There are currently 59 sites at the park. 

“We actually started work on it late last fall,” said Todd. “We completed the bulk of it and then we were shut down by (the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development or DIAND).”

Todd said his department had never been asked to apply for a permit before when building in an existing park. 

The territorial government had budgeted $300,000 for the campground extension, not including costs for shower rooms which are expected to be built by next year or in 2011. 

“Even the DIAND officials were a little hazy about it but when they came back and checked, they said, ‘no, you need a permit from the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board,” said Todd. 

He said he didn’t know why the federal government was being so particular now, adding that a land use permit wouldn’t have been required if it had been in a federal park. 

“Through our inspection and enforcement we must insure compliance with the Mackenzie Valley land use regulations, and when an operation exceeds a trigger that is indicated in the land use regulations a permit is required,” said Darnell McCurdy, DIAND’s district manager for the South Mackenzie district. 

Such a trigger could’ve included the weight and size of equipment used to clear out bush for the campground extension, said McCurdy.

In any event, Todd said his department expects to hand in its application for a permit to the water board sometime this week. 

Manik Duggar, acting executive director of the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board, said it usually takes 42 days for approval once the application has been deemed complete. 

The territorial government wanted to build the extra campground loop to relieve pressure on the Fred Henne and Prelude Lake campgrounds closer to town, which typically fill up faster than those at Reid Lake. 

As it turns out, there may have not been much interest in a third loop at Reid Lake this summer anyway. Warm weather only returned last weekend and interest in two-month, extended stay campsites at Prelude and Reid dropped off sharply this year. 

Only 30 people bid on the extended stay campsites at the annual ballot draw May 10 where 80 sites were available between the two parks. 

Cheryl Wourms, who up until last year regularly entered the ballot draw, said the low demand was born out of anger among campers who were upset after park officials cut the amount of time this year people could stay in the extended stay sites to two months from four, while charging the same old price of $500. 

“There are people squatting in the bush like crazy now,” said Wourms. 

“I think if there was a guarantee that people could still get the full season there would’ve been more interest in the draw, though they wouldn’t have liked to pay $1,000 for it. But I think people would’ve paid it.” 

Todd said the hiked fees and cuts to the full camping season likely turned people off this year, but he is hopeful there will be more of a demand in future years. 

He said after only the 30 people showed up for the ballot draw, a second draw was held to allow them to bid on a second two-month stay. Twenty five out of the 30 bidders chose the double-extended stay package for $1,000 total. 

“It worked out fairly well,” said Todd.

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