New campgrounds near Stave Lake may be built in coming years to boost camping opportunities in the Lower Mainland and to highlight the aboriginal heritage of the area.
Mission council heard from summer student employees Courtenay Ferguson and Maggie Savino at its last meeting. They have been employed this year through a partnership of the district, Kwantlen First Nation and BCIT to look into ways to enhance recreational opportunities in the area.
They told council that the Kwantlen objectives for the area are that “everyone shares here,” and the First Nation wants to see continuing archaeological research. The Stave Lake West master plan calls for “establishing a realistic and achievable scope for change,” in order to change an area with a reputation of bad behaviour by some users to one that is a benefit for Mission and the Kwantlen First Nation.
The students have done preliminary work into the establishment of three campgrounds in the 50 square kilometres of Mission’s tree farm west of Stave Lake. Proposed are an equestrian campground at Kearsley Creek, a motorized campground nearby and a campground at Rocky Point.
The first Kearsley Creek campground would have 115 sites, with some equestrian facilities such as corrals. It would also have a boat launch for non-motorized boats. It would be located near the Zajac Ranch and partnerships with that facility are possible.
Upper Kearsley Creek could have as many as 170 sites and would be designed for off-road users. It was suggested that an organized campground will take away the reputation of the mud flats area as a place where anything goes.
Rocky Point campground would have 110 sites.
All the proposed campgrounds would include day use areas and parking. Once the funds to develop them have been identified and they are built, they can be maintained through user fees.
In response to a question from Coun. Jenny Stevens, Ferguson said there is strong potential for aboriginal tourism. Mini-longhouses could be built, and Zajac Ranch is also developing a longhouse. Aboriginal arts and culture could be taught and experienced by visitors.
Coun. Danny Plecas said campsites in the Lower Mainland are in high demand and there is a real need for more sites on the north side of the Fraser. Coun. Pam Alexis echoed this, saying that Golden Ears Park was so full on the August long weekend that no additional people were being allowed into the park.
Michael Boronowski, manager of civic engagement and corporate initiatives, said funding will be sought from the provincial government to help build the campgrounds and access roads.