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Tenting sites returning to Riverside

High demand drives owners of campground to re-work site plans for “multipurpose camping”

Officially there may no longer be any spots to pitch a tent overnight within Whistler.

But unofficially, the owners of Riverside Campground are allowing people to camp on their main lawn and asphalt RV sites this summer.

Owners Buffie and Nigel Woods decided to relax their rules this summer after hearing the large number of requests from campers hoping to tent in Whistler overnight.

"We are doing everything we can to accommodate tented campers on RV sites," explained Buffie. "We are also putting people on our main lawn area to accommodate them because there is such a large demand."

This year marks the first summer in recent memory that there have been no official tenting campsites in Whistler.

Up until last September, Riverside housed 34 individual tenting campsites and four group campsites. But during a rezoning application last year, council asked the Woods to dismantle their existing campsites because they are in a floodway.

Other areas in the Riverside Campground are safe for tenting though, and the Woods have plans to create 16 new tent sites by this fall. Those tent sites where always in the plans, said Buffie.

She added that the campground will continue to let people pitch tents on their RV sites in an arrangement she described as "multipurpose camping."  More than 50 new RV sites should also be in place this fall.

The Woods also plan to utilize yurt sites to accommodate campers. Of the total 23 yurts planned, only six will be built in the near future. The rest of the space will be used for tent camping.

Mayor and council have received a rash of letters over the past few months complaining about the lack of tent camping at Riverside.

During last week's council meeting, the mayor reminded the public that the old campsites lay in a floodplain. He added that there are other places on the Riverside property were it is safe to camp, and it is up to the owners to allow tent camping in those spaces.

"It was a business decision by Riverside to eliminate campsites in favour of RV sites," said the mayor.

Meanwhile, Buffie Woods said Riverside Campground will be open to the general public during the Winter Olympic Games next year.

"We have had negotiations with a few different groups but the layout of the property wasn't viable for the 40-foot trailers they wanted to put there," she said.