District of Kent hosted its second public consultation about the future of the Kilby Historic Site Thursday (June 23).
And while the consultation gave community members an idea of where the District is in their plans to turn a 3.5-acre portion of the site into 25 campground spots, not everyone was happy with what’s in the works.
The recent plan follows 35 campsites already installed in the area along Kilby Road on neighbouring property to the Kilby Museum.
According to a District report, six of those camping spots, which were added in the spring of 2015, generated $36,000 in revenue.
The proposal stems from a need for the historical site to run with more self-sustainability, and less reliant on provincial funding, said Director of Community Services and Projects Jennifer Thornton.
“It’s harder each year to secure the provincial funding,” she explained.
She added that installing 25 more camping spots could bring about $85,000 annually for the site; about one-fifth of the entire cost for the site.
“For years different ideas have been tossed around,” Thornton said.
She noted council has already endorsed the proposal, but “we want to get some feedback.”
Currently, two proposed campground layouts are on the table. The first, which was shared a few weeks ago during a public consultation in Harrison Mills, looks to construct the campsite, septic, bathrooms, and roadway through the campsite in the front left portion of the acreage.
Upon hearing from residents that this layout wouldn’t allow for much privacy between campers and residents across the street, the District presented a second layout option last week, which would push the campsites to the far left portion of the acreage, and leave a boundary or buffer made up of agricultural land, Thornton said.
During Thursday evenings public consult, several residents in the area voiced their concerns about the project.
Harrison Mills resident Erik Van Dyk and his wife were leasing the land up for construction plus 13.5 other acres last year, to grow dairy feed.
He said they weren’t asked to pay more to continue their lease, and were instead just told their lease would not be renewed.
“It’s just wrong,” he said.
He added that the soil was “Grade A agricultural land,” and was concerned about the land being ruined when it gets covered in cement and gravol.
Kilby resident, and owner of Kilby Bed and Breakfast Darcy Doyle questioned if adding more campground sites was the only way to keep the site sustainable.
“Why does the campground have to keep the historical site alive,” he questioned. “We just keep throwing good money after bad.”
He added that the historical site and museum should be able to “survive on it’s own merits.”
The business owner also said the safety and security of the campground during the night needs to be looked into further.
“I don’t know how they’re going to come in and out [of the campgrounds[ safely,” he said.
The environmental hazards caused by an increase in traffic in the area was also a concern for Agassiz residents Perreault Francois.
He said he visits the Kilby Provincial Park beach frequently, and already notices he has to swim around boats and “step over anchors” during the busy summer season.
He fears that it’s only going to get worse.
“The beaches are pristine,” he said.
He referenced a Master Plan For Kilby Provincial Park report by the province’s Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing, which states although the provincial park is “significant with its numerous attractions,” the parks size and location “lacks the provincial significance to become a majour destination.
Lastly, he added that the campsites already available do not have a time limit for campers like how B.C. Provincial parks have a 14-day limit.
When asked about whether or not the District would look into imposing a time limitation for campers, Thornton said the District will “definitely establish policies and practices.”
Those who attended were asked to leave comments on a comment card, and staff would review the comments and questions.