Camp host Jason Walters is picking up the pieces after last week’s rains ravaged Harrison Mills, the District of Kent Harrison Hot Springs and beyond.
Chehalis River Campground is one of two year-round campgrounds in the Lower Mainland, and due to the damage the severe weather left behind, it currently has no opening date and will not have one until further notice. Walters is looking for help to get it back up and running again.
Walters said there is a small amount of work to get the camp to a more operational state; his main concern was making sure the gravel road was restored.
“My main concern is getting the campground open and getting repairs done so we can get back to normal,” Walters said. “There’s not a lot of work, maybe a couple of days, but it’s something that needs to get done. There are some campsites that didn’t get damaged, and I’d like to get those open right now. We have about 10 to 15 reservations for next weekend. It’d be nice not to let those people down.”
Walters estimated to get the camp 100 per cent operational and back in top condition, the cost would be between $50,000 and $100,000. Basic repairs to get the camp open in some capacity would be considerably less.
A spokesperson from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development said in order to conduct further repairs, an engineering and hydrological assessment is needed, which they anticipated would take place in March. Repairs would go through March and April and a full opening would be expected by the beginning of May.
“The money I made from the campground last year I put back into the campground to make this site much more inviting to campers,” Walters said. Such recent upgrades included a golf cart for ease of firewood transporation for guests, better lighting in the outhouses and a traffic controlling gate.
Under ideal circumstances, funding would come through B.C.’s government, specifically Recreation Sites and Trails B.C. However, Walters said he’s been told there is no funding available for repairs at this time, despite efforts to lobby for the campground.
“This is my livelihood; this is what I do,” Walters said. “My goal is to make this someone’s priority. Nothing gets done in government if you don’t raise flags, and I’m just trying to raise the biggest flag.”
“There’s a state of emergency in our area; there should be funds available,” Walters added. “I understand these things take time, but at least give us a heads-up the money is coming.”
Walters plans to start a petition to resolve this issue as soon as possible.
“The campsite is closed until funding is approved to open it up again,” he said. “In the summer, we will be super busy and full all of the time. It would be a pretty big hit for the Lower Mainland not to have it open.”
Walters said he is not able to accept funding toward repairs personally, but inquiries to help financially can be routed to Recreation Sites and Trails B.C. They can be reached through their website at www.sitesandtrailsbc.ca or by calling 250-356-7643.