Mispec Park campground plan pitched to Saint John council

Saint John Coun. Ray Strowbridge would like to see a private campground at the city-owned Mispec Park.

Coun. Ray Strowbridge wants national call for proposals to operate private campground at city-owned site

Saint John council will consider a proposal on Monday night to create a private campground at the popular city-owned Mispec Park.

Mispec Park, located on the Bay of Fundy, is an ideal location for private campground, says Coun. Ray Strowbridge. (CBC)
Coun. Ray Strowbridge said he believes a campground would help raise the profile of the park, which is located on the Bay of Fundy, and help bring improvements.

"This is simply an idea for a third party to come in and open up a campground there, operate it at their own expense," said Strowbridge, who is putting forward the motion.

He would like to see a nation-wide call for expressions of interest, he said.

Geoff Speare, the superintendent of the Saint John Horticultural Association and operator of the Rockwood Park Campsite, said a lot of money would be required for washrooms, showers and other services.

"Considerable investment. Even if it's a small operation, you'd have to invest several hundred thousand dollars to meet the requirements of Canada Select and get a licence from Canada Select to have a campground in the province," he said.

But Strowbridge said a private operator might be able to take over the entire park some day, including the beach area, running it for a profit and relieving the city of the annual operating costs.

After years of neglect, there have been some recent improvements at the park, to the main beach area, including a new sea wall and steps.

But the nearby ballfield is no longer maintained and there has been some vandalism, including a shelter that was burned to the ground.

Brian Harris, the chairperson of the Mispec Beach Recreation Committee, said the community group tries to keep an eye on what's happening in the park. But a campground would provide a continuous presence.

"I can't see anything negative about it," he said.

"You're right on the Atlantic Ocean, the Bay of Fundy. What's a better location than that?"