Campers will be able to pitch their tents and park their RVs at Pigeon Lake in Alberta this summer after all.
The province originally planned to close 248 sites at the popular campground for renovations, but business owners in the area complained, saying the closure would have negative affects on their livelihoods, the Calgary Herald reported.
All 401 sites at the provincially run Pigeon Lake and Zeiner campgrounds are now open and will stay open until Aug. 7, the province announced Thursday (May 17).
The decision was reached after a Wednesday evening meeting between representatives from Tourism, Parks and Recreation and the Pigeon Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“I felt that this was a legitimate concern,” said Christine Cusanelli, minister of Tourism, Parks and Recreation. “Pigeon Lake is an area that is important for recreation for Albertans.”
Chamber of Commerce members are pleased the government listened to their concerns, said president Rick Southern.
“It would have been disastrous,” he said. “Even the year-round businesses depend on the influx of tourists. People come and buy ice cream cones and shop at our grocery stores.”
Smaller projects that won’t impact campers, such as landscaping, will go ahead over the next few months. Larger construction projects, such as new shower buildings, will begin in August once the campgrounds are closed, said Camille Weleschuk, spokeswoman for Tourism, Parks and Recreation.
“We wanted to find a construction schedule that fits both the businesses and costs,” Cusanelli said.
Cusanelli could not comment on any possible extra costs associated with the new schedule, but said starting construction in August should allow for similar rates.
The $7 million redevelopment of the campgrounds, located about 60 miles southwest of Edmonton, will also include adding a new boat launch, enlarging some campsites and bringing power to others. More than 100 sites at the Zeiner campground have already been renovated.
Though the campgrounds usually close after the September long weekend, business owners aren’t upset about losing August traffic.
“We had to give and take a little bit, both sides,” Southern said, adding that tourism generally drops off in August.
Improvements to the sites should also bring more campers to the area in the future.
“We’re in support of all the upgrades,” said Shirley Hauptman, marketing co-ordinator of the Village at Pigeon Lake, a shopping complex and resort in the area. “If they need their four months and they can do it at the end of the summer, that’s perfect.”