British Columbia

ALC orders Vancouver Island campground to shut down and return land to agricultural use

John and Jerri Wyatt bought the Chemainus River Campround in 1980. When they recently applied for a permit to add 10 more sites, the Agricultural Land Commission told them the property can no longer operate as a campground.

Chemainus River Campground must kick out all its campers by Oct. 1

There are at least a dozen people who will be effectively homeless if the Chemainus River Campground closes at the end of the month. (ChemainusRiverCampground.com)

A popular Vancouver Island campground could soon disappear.

The owners of the Chemainus River Campground, located about 80 kilometres north of Victoria, B.C., have been told by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), the administrative body that oversees the province's Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), they must return their property to the ALR by Oct. 1.

John and Jeri Wyatt, who bought the property in 1980, found themselves in hot water with the ALC when they recently applied for a permit to add 10 more sites to the existing 45 RV and tent sites the campground currently has.

John Wyatt told On The Island in a phone interview the ALC not only rejected their application, it told them to shut down their entire operation. 

Now, campers and the region's mayor are rallying to keep the Wyatts in business.

Pleading with the province

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring wrote a letter Friday to the Ministry of Agriculture asking to have the campground excluded from the ALR. According to Siebring, the property was given approval from the ALC in the 1980s to operate as a campground and was never used for agricultural production. 

"The only thing that's ever grown there is trees and rocks," said Siebring, adding the province is in the middle of a housing crisis and reverting back to ALR land would mean evicting at least a dozen people who live there year round.

Siebring told On The Island host Gregor Craigie he is also planning to raise the issue with provincial government representatives at the upcoming Union of B.C. Municipalities convention during the last week of September.

The Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement to On The Island it is reviewing Siebring's letter "and as such it would be inappropriate to comment at this time."

Over 1,000 campers have signed a petition the Wyatts began circulating this summer when the ALC gave them the ultimatum.

With files from On The Island

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now