Spring Lake Campground in west central Alberta may have a new lease on life.

The County of Grande Prairie gave its support Monday (Nov. 28) to the transfer of the lease on Crown land in Saddle Hills County from Weyerhaeuser to a private operator, the Alberta Daily Herald-Tribune reported

Originally built by Procter & Gamble Cellulose in 1974, the campground north of Hythe had fallen into a state of disrepair since Weyerhaeuser pulled out of operations in that area over the last few years. The facility has been receiving little to no money for general maintenance and upkeep over the years.

James McNally, a shareholder in 1621017 Alberta Limited, who will take over the lease, met with county council Monday to answer questions about the future of the recreation site.

The county had questions regarding the state of disrepair of the campground and the company’s ability to bring it back to its original condition.

Councillors mentioned regravelling the road and site, replacing missing site markers, removing pine beetle damaged trees and upgrading or replacing the fire pits.

“Here you have an individual who is willing to take on this, to better the campsite, to keep it open for the general public, and all I really can hear is how come I can’t,” said McNally.

“I accept the challenge.”

McNally told councillors he will be “paying for Weyerhaeuser’s mistakes” and that Weyerhaeuser has agreed to bring the campsite back to its original condition.

“Weyerhaeuser wants to see the campground stay open, they want to see it improve. It’s exactly why I think they’re open to turn it over,” said McNally.

McNally said that Weyerhaeuser is supporting the project with both manpower and finances to improve the campground.

Weyerhaeuser removed all “at risk” dead pine beetle infested trees before offering the campground to the company, he noted.

Councillor Brock Smith was concerned that McNally’s business plan did not mention a dollar value to any of the work that needs to be done in the campground.

“Everybody’s worried about the dollar value,” said McNally. “The easiest way to put it, it’s going to take an investment of time, more so than an investment of money.”

McNally is unsure when the campground will officially reopen. He is looking at having it open 365 days a year.

Out of the campground’s 38 camping sites, only 24 are in usable condition for the public.

McNally has already signed an agreement with Saddle Hills County guaranteeing 80% of the sites will remain open to the public.

The county voted 7-1 to support the transfer of the lease to 1621017 Alberta Ltd. and to encourage Weyerhaeuser to work closely with McNally to ensure successful continued operations.