Julie Armstrong has spent every summer for the past five years working at the Whistler Campground. But a ruling by a B.C. Supreme Court judge last Friday has Julie on a job hunt.
The campground is what she does in the summer. Not so any longer.
Ruth Buzzard, owner of the Whistler Campground, is three strikes and out as the Supreme Court judgement allows Greensides Properties Inc., a Vancouver-based developer, to exercise a 1989 option-to-buy the 15.2 hectare property which the Buzzard's numbered holding company has owned since 1980. The Buzzards will receive $3 million for the land and 35 per cent of the money derived from the re-development of the property.
What this means to Julie and the rest of the six full-time staff at the Whistler Campground is their jobs are in limbo as Greensides decides how to run the campground it has acquired. Greensides president David Ehrhardt says he is not in the business of running campgrounds, but he has made a commitment to municipal officials to keep the campground open for the rest of the summer.
The only mystery remaining is who is going to run the 152 site operation that has been housing tents, RVs and trailers for a decade?
"Obviously you are not going to find me out at the site taking reservations," say Ehrhardt, who has been greasing the wheels on the stalled plans to develop the Whistler Campground into 84 single family and duplex lots and a $15 million private residential secondary school/sports academy since 1989. "If the circumstances are that the Buzzards aren't running the campground we have someone who is qualified at running campgrounds ready to come in and run it for us."
Lawyers from both parties met Tuesday morning to try and come to an agreement about management possibilities. Ruth Buzzard says she was not too optimistic following the meeting, adding she offered to sell out to Greensides and then rent the campground operation from them, running it as is until Labour Day.
"Their lawyer told our lawyer that they didn't want us running it,"
Buzzard says. "It's my understanding they want us out of there and we are in the process of looking for storage space for our worldly possessions.
"The worst thing about his whole mess is those kids could lose their jobs," Buzzard says. "Julie is like my daughter, those kids have become part of our family. The thing I am going to miss the most is sitting on that stool and watching those kids bounce into the office while they were working, part of me will miss that."
Kristine Hoffman, 22, works at the registration desk. She worked at the campground in 1991 and returned this year for another summer at Camp Buzzard. She says she will work for the new campground managers — if they ask.
"So far we haven't heard a thing from them," Hoffman says. "We are waiting to see if we have jobs or not. If we can work things the way we work them now, we'll stay."
Hoffman says it is going to be different around the campground without the Buzzards, Ruth, David and Mark, running the show.
"This is not going to be the same Whistler Campground without them around. This is the best job in Whistler. If I can't work here this summer, I'm probably going to leave, my heart was set on working here," Hoffman says, adding most of the staff live at the campground and are worried they may not have a place to live when the campground ownership changes. "Our jobs and our homes are all up in the air and we're just waiting for them (Greensides) to come forward."
While Greensides prepares to bulldoze the campground in the fall to make way for "affordable housing" the municipality is going to have to get the slow moving process of finding other private campgrounds for the valley on line, as Ehrhardt says the servicing for the housing component of the project will go in this summer and he hopes to "market the first group of lots in the fall."
Two campground proposal calls have came out of municipal hall in the past three years, but council has yet to decide on future campground sites. A report on the remaining four campground proposal sites will hit the council table in early July.