Site preparations have begun at the location of a new front-country campground at Mount Revelstoke National Park.
Surveying and tree falling for the road and utilities corridor is taking place in preparation for construction to start in spring 2018.
The campground, which plans to offer between 60 and 65 sites, is expected to be open for the summer in 2019.
“The number is variable right now because it will depend on how we finally fit the individual campsites to the ground,” said Rick Reynolds, a manager with Parks Canada.
He said the park wants to offer an option for different types of campers, so there are back-in, tent-only and pull-through campsites proposed for the campground. They are also looking into the purchase of cabins for visitors who want to camp, but only have sleeping bags and no other equipment.
The campground is being developed at kilometre one on the Meadow in the Sky Parkway, where there used to be staff residences.
The superintendent’s building will be re-used, getting updated for use as a registration office, kitchen shelter and interpretive centre, as well as a storage and a handful of offices in the basement.
“Rather than tear it down, it’s actually a very beautiful building with a nice two-storey fireplace with copper sheathing on it,” said Reynolds. “So we’re going to adaptively re-use it.”
A new washroom and shower building will also be constructed.
In 2016, the Government of Canada announced $6-million in funding for Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks. The campground at Mount Revelstoke was estimated to cost $4.5-million.
Reynolds said that with the exception of national parks in northern Canada and one on an island, Mount Revelstoke National Park is the only national park in the country that does not offer car camping.
“Visitors have an expectation of camping as part of their national park experience,” he said. “We do get people who arrive in the park, having planned a trip or not, who are disappointed they can’t camp while they are here at Mount Revelstoke.”
The park does offer some backcountry accomadations, but they are limited, he said.
With about 850,000 visitors annually, Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks are the fourth-busiest national parks in Canada after Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay.
The campground will be serviced by BC Hydro, and a septic field is planned at the One Mile Compound – sani pumps are not planned at this time – but Parks Canada is requesting use of City of Revelstoke water.
In a presentation to city council on Oct. 24, Ron Larsen, an asset manager with Parks Canada, said that the watermain at Highway 23 North could be connected to the park. A lift station would be built to get the water up to the campsite.
Larsen said that since there are upgrades required to the hydro poles currently being used by Parks Canada at Mount Revelstoke, they could use the opportunity to trench both the water pipes and the electrical wires at the same time.
“It would minimize the footprint of the utilities,” he said.
A Parks Canada contractor estimated that the campground would need 27 cubic litres of water monthly per campsite.
For reference, Larsen said that an average Revelstoke household uses about 30 cubic litres a day and he thinks the contractor estimate is a bit high. He said that when he goes camping, he uses a lot less water than at home.
“There’s no baths going on, you’re probably washing dishes less,” he said.
Parks Canada is asking the City of Revelstoke for a five-year agreement to use water.
Mayor Mark McKee said that city staff were preparing a presentation for council on the subject.
The campground is being planned in the lower area of the park, near the Beaver Lodge Bike Park and the Nels Nelsen Ski Jump viewpoint and trails.
The campground’s proximity to trail networks will making it easy to explore and get into town.
“I think it’s exciting,” said councillor Scott Duke. “It’s good because there will be more people visiting the park and they’ll extend their day in town a little bit longer because they’ll have a place to stay.”
The campground is expected to bring an additional 30,000 visitors to Revelstoke and the area.
“It’s a nice addition to the park and a nice addition to the community,” said McKee. “I think it’s going to do really well.”