mi-craven-site

The Craven campground has been under water thanks to heavy spring runoff and torrential rains. (CBC)

Thanks to flooding, thousands of country music fans who normally flock to the campgrounds at the Craven Country Jamboree will have to go elsewhere this year.    

The jamboree announced Thursday that the campground is being moved about 10 kilometres southwest to a 57-hectare area north of Highway 11.

The original campground, next to the mainstage beside Craven, about 33 kilometres northwest of Regina, is under water following heavy spring runoff and a rainy June. The new site is on higher ground.

It's not an ideal situation, but it's the best option under the circumstances, jamboree spokesperson Kim Blevins said.

"We wanted to have our campers on our main festival site," Blevins said. "I think this is the best compromise and I think people will be pleasantly surprised when they get here."

Until earlier this week, the jamboree had been hoping to pump the water out, but it didn't have much time because the entertainment starts July 13 and traditionally many campers arrive early.

Then the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans got involved. Department officials said there were fish spawning in the water and if pumping was to continue, the fish would have to be saved.

The jamboree stopped the pumps, but then Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre MP Tom Lukiwski found out.

"I was furious. Quite frankly, I was furious at the DFO," Lukiwski said.

He phoned the office of the Keith Ashfield, the minister of fisheries and oceans, and asked him to step in. Ashfield did, overruling his officials so that the pumps could start up again.

"This is not the natural habitat for fish," Lukwiski said. "And pumping operations are going on around the province. If we were to stop that reclamation projects on every piece of land across Saskatchewan we'd be in big trouble."

Festival organizers said they were pleased with the decision and will start pumping again at some point, but it's too late to reclaim the campsite this year.

The challenge in the next few weeks will be to move thousands of campers back and forth to the shows. More than 10 buses will shuttle people to and from the main stage, organizers say.