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Camping pilot project in Mountain View County extended into 2023

Existing businesses with development permits for riding arenas, public event facilities in direct control districts and business agri-tourism to accommodate unserviced camping/overnight accommodations

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - Council has passed motion to extend the business support pilot project into 2023, allowing interested and approved operators a chance to provide unserviced, self-contained camping and overnight accommodation under certain conditions.

The move came by way of motion at a recent regularly scheduled council meeting following the presentation of a review report on the program’s first year prepared by administration.

On April 27, council directed administration to bring forward a project for existing businesses with development permits for riding arenas, public event facilities in direct control districts and business agri-tourism to accommodate unserviced camping/overnight accommodations.

Council endorsed resulting business support pilot project on May 11. The project had a May long weekend to Oct. 31 timeline.

The pilot was undertaken to assist the county in understanding the scope of need as well as the impacts before considering options on a more permanent basis.

Eligible businesses were required to pre-register with administration before participating.

The unserviced overnight self-contained accommodation was permitted outside the approved hours of operation, days or month of operation, or events. Participants were still required to comply with provincial and federal requirements.

Administration had identified approximately 11 public riding arenas, 11 agri-tourism businesses and two direct control districts for event facilities with approved development permit that were eligible to participate.

Four businesses registered to take part in the pilot, with three actually participating. The participants were a public riding arena, two agri-tourism businesses, and one direct control district for an event facility.

At the conclusion of the pilot, the participants were asked a number of questions, including “Did participation in the pilot project provide a benefit to your business and your clients?”

Responses to that question included: “Yes and it is definitely the direction we want the business to move in”, “The participation absolutely helped our clients and our business. Are you aware there is a great lack of accommodation in our area.”

Additional comments from participants included “More notice on the project would have helped planning summer events” and “I would like to recommend that the pilot be extended to future years. It would be great to have guidance on what will happen as we book our contracts one or two years in advance” and “As community members, we feel it is very beneficial for anyone hosting event to offer overnight camping and/or transportation to nearby accommodations.”

Another comment from a participant stated: “It is a relative simple and inexpensive way to reduce the risk of people driving under the influence or even just driving late at night when fatigue and darkness increase the risk of driving accidents.”

One of the participants reported allowing overnight camping for about 150 guests under the program.

The county received two complaints during the pilot, both related to traffic at one of the participant sites, with both complaints made by the same individual, council heard.

It is not known if the traffic concerns were related to activities associated with the pilot program.

During the Nov. 30 council meeting, deputy reeve Greg Harris recommended that the pilot be extended for another year.

“I would like to see us provide that certainty for this industry by extending the pilot project one more year while we go through the land use bylaw review so that there is continuity, especially for the companies that are already trying to do their planning and budgeting,” said Harris.

“It would also give the county a further opportunity to have more data next year to be able to call on.”

He said he would like to see the pilot’s second year open to any interested and approved operators under the same criteria as the first year.

“More data makes for better decision-making,” he said. “The more data we get and more examples we get the better it is for the land use bylaw review. We are trying something out to gather data.”

Coun. Jennifer Lutz said, “This did seem like a good program. I don’t know if we have enough information to fully evaluate it so I like extending it.”

Council passed a motion extending the pilot project for another year under the same criteria and timelines as in 2022. 

Interested parties can immediately apply for the 2023 pilot, council heard.

Dan Singleton

About the Author: Dan Singleton

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