Waterways Resort

Summerhill Resorts purchased Waterways about 18 months ago and announced plans to expand in February. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Residents in the Portland, Ontario, area say a proposed expansion of a waterfront RV campground could hurt the ecosystem of Big Rideau Lake, as well as the surrounding area, according to the CBC.

Waterways RV Resort, located on Big Rideau Lake about 100 kilometers (62 miles) southwest of Ottawa, currently has 150 sites for seasonal trailers. About 18 months ago, Toronto-based Summerhill Resorts bought the sleepy mom-and-pop campground, then announced a planned expansion in February of this year.

Neighbors and year-round residents of the vacation spot say they are concerned the campground could triple its footprint, leading to a negative impact on the environment and municipal resources.

“We are against what appears to be unbridled expansion,” said longtime property owner Hansen Downer.

‘We’re not a party resort’

Summerhill CEO Paul Johnson said Waterways, which is now one of 11 RV parks in the company’s portfolio, won’t expand as much as local residents believe.

Residents expect the site to double its number of total units to 300 by using a 40-hectare (98-acre) site attached to the current property.

“It’s exaggerated and I don’t know where it came from,” said Johnson, whose company invited locals and other stakeholders to a virtual town hall in February.

He did confirm owners of older trailers on the campground will have to modernize or move out.

Summerhill sells a trailer that exists as a four-meter-wide (13-foot-wide) dwelling that sits on wheels hidden underground. The units sell for between $100,000 and $200,000 with buyers responsible for annual lot fees ranging from $4,000 to $7,000.

Johnson said upgrades to the campground’s septic and electrical infrastructure are coming, but he wouldn’t commit to the extent of the expanded footprint.

He assured marine traffic on Big Rideau Lake, a key concern for neighbors, won’t increase significantly.

“We’re not a party resort. We’re not looking at a place where people party on the beach at two in the morning. We’re a wholesome family resort.”

Yann Hidiroglou, who lives nearby, said he doesn’t worry about the quality of campers. He worries about the quantity.

“It’s not a question of what I’d be willing to accept. It’s more what does the land accept? How much more can it take?” he said.

Township tries to calm concerns

Arie Hoogenboom, mayor of the Township of Rideau Lakes, says the acrimony has been simmering since the winter. The township did pass a trio of new resolutions to help calm community concerns.

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