People living at a Cowichan Valley campground are facing an uncertain future with a looming deadline.
The Chemainus River Campground has been in business for more than 30 years but it’s ordered to shut down by the end of this month.
Running it has been John and Jeri Wyatt’s passion.
When they bought the nine-hectare property in 1980, it was agricultural land, zoned for a campground.
But after the Wyatt’s asked the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to expand the number of campground sites, the regulator seemed caught off-guard about its operation.
“As of October first they want us to shut down and ask everybody to leave and we can’t afford to do that and we’re going to lose everything if that happens,” said Jeri Wyatt.
The campground has 45 RV and tent sites with nine used year-round.
The Wyatts asked to add 10 more sites and that’s when they got the ALC’s attention.
Former MLA Bill Routley has recently been advocating for the Wyatt’s even though he’s a big supporting of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).
“Cause I believe we need to protect our best lands for growing food but I also think you need to apply common sense when you look at a situation like this,” Routley said.
And thanks to Routley’s help, the Municipality of North Cowichan has recently applied to have the campground excluded from the ALR.
“The enforcement letter says please return this land to its original agricultural state. It was never agricultural land. The only thing that’s ever grown on there is trees,” said Al Siebring, North Cowichan’s Mayor. The ministry is now reviewing the letter.
And there would be issues trying to farm the land.
“It’s a catch 22. exactly right,” said John Wyatt.
The Wyatt’s say getting a larger water license, which would be necessary to farm the land, would be difficult.
“We’re got rights for 1,000 gallons right now and we’re getting letters every year now for the last couple years asking us not to take any water out of the Chemainus River,” said Wyatt.
The Wyatt’s now hoping for a delay in the ALC’s Sept.30th deadline as not only would they lose revenue but a number of people would no longer have a place to call home.