Thursday, April 16, 2015

Castle Valley Campground gets go-ahead from MD council

Site of planned Castle Valley Campground (looking south)
C. Davis photos
Chris Davis - On April 14 Council for the MD of Pincher Creek No. 9 held a public hearing regarding Bylaw 1259-15, a Land Use Bylaw to amend the land use designation of a parcel of land from "Airport Vicinity Protection - AVP" to "Rural Recreation 1 - RR-1". The applicants sought the amendment in order to establish a recreational campground/holiday trailer park on bottom land situated on the east bank of the castle river adjacent to Township Road 65A (Airport Road) in the valley west of Pincher Creek Municipal Airport. During their regular meeting after the public hearing council unanimously approved the new bylaw.

There were six people in attendance at the public hearing, four of them joint applicants and two of them citizens who spoke to council about the proposed campground development. Mitch Carpenter represented himself and the other applicants to council. Carpenter said that the development, which they intend call the Castle Valley Campground, would consist of 100 campsites, each 75 feet square in dimension. "The campground will run from mid April to mid October, weather permitting of course." Carpenter said renewable 6 month leases would be offered to their clientele, and year-round leases would not be available.  He said the intent was to have a family oriented peaceful campground, and that anyone who violated the family environment of the campground would not be allowed to renew their lease. Carpenter said the natural beauty and shelter from the wind of the area coupled with its close proximity to Pincher Creek and Cowley made it an ideal location for a family getaway spot, adding that it would also bring revenue to Pincher Creek businesses and facilities and would also provide employment opportunities.

Access road to planned Castle Valley Campground
Two recreational areas were included in concept drawings of the planned campground shown to council, one a playground/park and the other a picnic area. A small farmers market onsite is also part of the vision. According to Carpenter there will be no permanent structures at the campground, with porta-potties being supplied to avoid a need for plumbing and in-ground sewer. He later added that sheds were being considered, depending on the MD's requirements or restrictions for same. Power will be provided to the site. Carpenter said it was anticipated that there will be a recycling program onsite to minimize waste. 500 new trees are planned for the site. He said Castle Valley Campground will work with local emergency services to ensure that they're equipped to handle emergencies and fire pits are up to code.

Adjacent landowner David Saganiuk spoke to council about some of his concerns about the campground. He said the density of the campground was his biggest concern. "I'm not really against having a small campground down there but I think... 200 to 500 using that land if it's fully developed to that capacity, I think that's a big change from a rural area with no neighbours to, I guess we'll be the third or fourth biggest population in the MD." Saganiuk also said the increased usage of the river was also a concern, and questioned whether the site was at risk of flooding.

Site of planned Castle Valley Campground (looking north from Airport Road)
Another citizen also spoke to council. John Braun said he used to own the entire valley where the campground site is located. He said the bridge that crosses the Castle River was severely damaged during the 1995 flood, but most of the land being considered for the campground was unaffected. He pointed out two berms that were installed to protect the Cowley Water Co-op intake located across the river from the campground site. He said the berms successfully protected the intake during the '95 flood.

The bylaw was on the agenda for the regular meeting of council that followed the public hearing, and council at that time unanimously passed the bylaw.

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