The Whistler Campground will close its gates for good after Labour Day, ending a three-year battle between the current owners and Greensides Property Inc. — the company proposing to develop the campground into affordable housing and a $15 million private school.
Greensides President David Ehrhardt confirmed this week the sale of the campground lands will be complete "as soon as possible" and a new manager from the Okanagan will manage the 152-site campground this summer, replacing present owner Ruth Buzzard.
Lawyers representing the Buzzards and Greensides have been waging a battle all the way to the B.C. Supreme Court over a 1989 option to buy agreement. Greensides' option to buy was supported after three appeals by the Buzzards.
Ehrhardt says although they have brought in a new manager, all of the present employees of the campground will be offered the option of keeping their jobs.
"We would like to see all the existing people stay, but that's their choice," Ehrhardt says.
Meanwhile the municipality is in the process of fast-tracking a proposal call to find one or two campground sites in the valley to replace the Whistler Campground. Two proposal calls have been issued. No satisfactory applications were received during the first proposal call.
Mayor Ted Nebbeling says four campground proposals will go before municipal council in early July. Council will then have to make a quick decision on which to approve and then proceed with the rezoning process.
Nebbeling says a campground is not going to be stepping stone for a developer to get land freed up for other uses.
"We are going to make it clear that if land is rezoned for a campground business, that is the business they are going to be in, the campground business forever, not a major real estate development. We have made it very clear that campground bed units are going to be campground bed units only." Nebbeling says.
In April, Whistler council passed a motion asking the four remaining campground proponents, O'Mara/Woods, Mons Property Development Ltd., Garrand Holding and the Whistler Housing Corporation, to submit further information regarding a 12-month campground operation. The submissions are to include a proposed timeline for development and consideration of operating with a rival campground in Whistler.
O'Mara/Woods is proposing a campground immediately north of Spruce Grove Park, bisected by Fitzsimmons Creek. Mons Property Development Ltd. would like to develop a campground just north of the B.C. Hydro Rainbow substation. Garrand Holdings is proposing land at the south-west end of Green lake, north of the River of Golden Dreams. The Edgewater Inn recently opened on the land. The final proposal, from the Whistler Housing Corporation, would see a campground on Alta Lake Road west of Nita Lake and Alpha Lake Park.