This has been a funding partnership of Northern Development
October 2019 – Summer has come to an end and nights spent in tents and RVs are fond memories of a warmer season. Throughout the years, Northern Development has supported 13 projects that have improved camping experiences from Haida Gwaii to Mackenzie and Granisle to Lillooet.
To date, the Trust has committed $951,769 to non-profits, First Nations and local governments that are seeking to improve their recreational camping assets. Since Northern Development’s inception, tourism has been an investment area that has been heartily supported – in fact, tourism is mentioned in the Northern Development Trust Act (2004) as one of the investment areas that funds should be used for.
Tourism in our province is a significant industry that provides economic benefits and improves the quality of life for residents. According to Destination BC, tourism generated $18.4 billion in annual revenue and there were approximately 21.6 million overnight visitors in B.C. in 2017.
Welcoming campgrounds are essential to providing travelers with a positive holiday experience and the Trust is pleased to support communities that are keen to provide guests with an enjoyable and memorable accommodation experience.
Near the southern edge of Northern Development’s service region, Logan Lake Campground is a well-maintained, municipally owned campground overlooking its namesake. Twice, the District of Logan Lake has successfully applied to the Trust’s Economic Diversification Infrastructure program to receive funding for a campground expansion (completed in 2015) and for the construction of a visitor centre and campground office building (completed in 2018).
“The funding from Northern Development has helped us make our municipal campground much more attractive to visitors,” said Jeff Carter, director of public works and recreation at District of Logan Lake. “The construction of the campground office and visitor centre creates a positive first impression to those stopping in the area and also provides an additional revenue opportunity by featuring a retail space. The campground expansion enables us to welcome more campers and encourage them to access a range of outdoor activities that surround the campground.”
Combined, Northern Development provided $391,452 for the construction of the campground office and visitor centre and the creation of 13 new serviced campsites. Existing campsites were regraded and furnished with new firepits and picnic tables. A gazebo, picnic tables and barbeque were installed in a common area for all campground users to enjoy. The new campground office was a welcome and necessary improvement to enhance guests’ check-in experience as the previous office was located in a small utility closet space with no seating area and no opportunity for retail sales.
B.C.’s first accessible campground opened in 2018 overlooking the Bulkley River flowing through the beautiful Widzin Kwah Canyon in Witset, 30 kilometres west of Smithers. This campground was originally constructed in the 1980s and underwent a significant revitalization to meet the needs of today’s travelers with larger, pull through campsites and 50-amp service. With Witset Museum located on site, Witset RV Park and Campground is an attractive destination for many travelers.
“Witset First Nation is proud to operate B.C.’s first accessible campground and we are grateful to all of supporters who made this project a reality,” said Rebecca Morris, director of tourism and economic development at Witset First Nation. “Prior to this project we spent a lot of time planning how we can best welcome people and share our rich culture with guests. Now, this campground benefits our community in a variety of positive ways.”
To be welcoming to all people, the campground was made completely accessible and features compacted, level surfaces, accessible picnic tables and roll-in accessible showers. Operated by Witset First Nation, Northern Development was pleased to support their inclusive and forward-thinking strategy for the campground with a $137,605 grant through the Economic Development Infrastructure program.
In April 2018, District of Mackenzie was approved for $30,000 for the development of Mackenzie Community Campsite on Morfee Lake Road. The initial development, completed in fall 2018, features eight large RV sites with concrete pads and fire rings. In July 2019, the Trust approved $15,000 for the second phase of this development – adding eight tent sites with tables and fire rings.
“Adding 16 campsites to Mackenzie’s campground inventory is beneficial to both residents and visitors to our area,” said Stacey Miranda, director of recreation services at District of Mackenzie. “In previous summers, the existing campgrounds were consistently full, and people would have a challenging time finding a place to stay that is close to amenities. Now, we have more space to welcome more people and to encourage them to enjoy all that Mackenzie has to offer, both in our beautiful natural surroundings and unique businesses.”
The addition of 16 campsites increases Mackenzie’s capacity to welcome travelers and seasonal workers. The new campground also provides direct access to popular recreation opportunities, including Morfee Lake beaches, Morfee Lakeshore Trail, Mackenzie Golf and Country Club and Little Mac Bike Trails. This ideal location provides campers with a wide variety of activities, encouraging them to stay longer in the Mackenzie area.