Lions Club Undertakes $650K RV Park Project
The Wetaskiwin Lions Campground in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, is going to have happy campers for many years to come.
The community group’s representative, Larry Fowler, revealed the plans – a $650,000, five-year, nine-acre expansion – to city council at its July 9 regular meeting, the Wetaskiwin Times reported.
“We actually wanted to get started this year, and then do it over the next five years,” he said. “We feel that it’s going to be $650,000 if we were to just hire somebody and go, ‘Here, build us a campsite,’ – that would be $650,000.
“What we want to do is do it over five years because two-fold. No. 1 we don’t want to take all our money that we can give to the community and throw it into the campground. We don’t want to zero that,” he said.
“What we want to do is develop it, and in between donations, and grants, that we can get through Lions International, and also volunteers.
“We wanted to plan for five years to get it all put together, and then do it on a gradual basis that way.
“(We’re) hoping this year to start with an overflow,” said Fowler.
The Lions Campground sets aside 20 percent of its revenue generated to help with those projects.
“Presently right now, every weekend we are full to capacity at the Lions Campground,” Fowler told council.
“And last year, our campground alone we were able to donate $45,000 to our community.
“All the extra revenue will come back to our community,” said Fowler.
The expansion of the campground, which occupies about 10 acres within city limits, calls for approximately 55 additional camping sites, as well as larger camping units, which cannot be served at present time.
The expansion also calls for the installation of four additional showers, and as many washrooms.
In answer to a question from Alderman Barry Hawkes, Fowler told city council: “I would say we’ve got about 85 percent (of usage) that is events or weekend visitors to the city.
“We do have some, right now, seasonal sites and that due to new employees coming into the city that the companies have hired, and they haven’t got (a) residence yet.
“And then when they find residence, moving themselves out. We’ve had that on a month-to-month basis, happening this year.”
It was welcome news to the city council and city manager Ted Gillespie.
“I think Wetaskiwin is envied for the campground the Lions Club has (for) tourism and even the economic development within our community.
“If there is a downside to this (project), it would be that we are taking some of the prime land that could be used for industrial expansion in the future, and dedicating it to campground use,” said Gillespie, who directed the council it should weigh that factor when making its final decision.
Gillespie said the city would reserve land south of the project for industrial land use.
“That would allow us, as it’s developed, have them contribute towards the road construction as of the Lions Campground, contribute to the road construction.”
Gillespie said the city owns the property to the south and east of the campground, while the last to the west is privately owned and zoned residential.
“The east-west road would eventually come out to 36 Street, and there would be some requirements from the industrial development that there might be an emergency access both ways. Residential traffic would have to go out to the west, and the industrial traffic would have to enter to the east.”
Highway 13 entrance eventually gone
Another major change is once the development is complete, and the road has been built, access from Highway 13 will be eliminated.
“It would be much better to have the campers exit the highway on 36 Street, and then they’re in a low street environment right to the campground. The campground would still have good visibility from the highway,” said Gillespie.
That option, however, concerned Alderman Glenn Ruecker.
“You go past 36 Street, and you realize, ‘Oh gee, I have to turn back there,’ … now where do you turn around to back there?
“As long as we’ve got accurate signage for them, I guess.”
Fowler said changing the route to the campground was done with safety in mind.
“When we looked at this, and did our studies on it, we found that overall it was going to save an expense because of that highway and what it would cost to make it because of the laws that are (enforced) on that highway.
“It was actually going to be a smarter idea to take it into the south side, and be a less expense,” said Fowler.
MacQuarrie also questioned what the value of the potential tax loss to the city would be if it leased the land for campground expansion, instead of industrial use.
“We don’t have any specific information. Generally, industrial land like that is about $200,000 an acre, but that’s after you’ve serviced it.
“How much the city would make is not very much. The tax revenue on the acres … I guess we could get some information to you, I don’t know,” Gillespie said.
Meanwhile, the Wetaskiwin Lions Club has a lease that is renewed every five years until 2095.
The council also authorized city administration to enter into lease negotiations for the Lions Campground expansion “with the condition that the campground’s highway access be removed upon completion of a road to the south of the property.”
The city is in negotiations with the Lions Club to hammer out a new five-year lease.
The city has, historically, leased the land to the Lions Campground for a dollar.
“Respectfully to the Lions Club, I agree with everything you’re saying, I just find it troubling that we’re making this agreement when we don’t have all our information, I’m sorry,” she said.