Private campgrounds getting ready for operating in a COVID-19 world | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Private campgrounds getting ready for operating in a COVID-19 world

It will be business, but not business as usual at B.C.'s privately run campgrounds this year.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Keremeos Grist Mill and Gardens Facebook page
May 26, 2020 - 7:30 AM

As British Columbia’s provincial parks make plans to open to the public on June 1, the province’s private parks are also setting up their rules for operating in a pandemic.

Keremeos Grist Mill and Gardens manager Chris Mathieson says he will operate the small campground on the mill property in accordance with what B.C. Parks is doing, and that means restricting visitors to the province of B.C.

He posted his intention and operating rules over the weekend, and it got plenty of attention.

“I probably had 20,000 people view the post about Grist Mill camping policies over the weekend,” he says.

Mathieson says all private operators are trying to figure out what makes the most sense for their operations, their staff and their surrounding communities.

He’s decided to follow the direction set by B.C. Parks, which is limiting reservations to B.C. residents only.

The ministry issued the following statement on May 22:

“We appreciate and expect non-residents will follow our request and the guidance from B.C.’s provincial health officer to limit non-essential travel, stay local and enjoy where they live. This change is in alignment with resident only restrictions already in place in other park jurisdictions, inclduding Alberta,” the ministry said.

Mathieson said he figures around 95 per cent of those who responded to his post offered support for his position while the remaining five per cent seemed to take personal offence.

“We can’t control how other people receive a message. What we are hearing is stay close to home this year, and that’s exactly what we are going to encourage people to do,” he says.

Mathieson plans to open on Friday, June 26. He’ll be providing washroom facilities, but they will be limited. He’s also reduced the number of available campsites down from 11 to six to maintain social distancing.

Todd’s RV and Camping in Peachland said in a social media message they would be opening for recreational camping on June 1 but would not be opening the washrooms this season, restricting campers to self contained units only.

At the Gold Panner Campground in Cherryville, Jenn Baumbick says they’ve been following advice provided by the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association to help them navigate through the COVID-19 restrictions. They, too are only open to self contained units as they restrict use of washrooms at least for the present.

“That may change this summer. We will keep people updated through our website,” she says.

Baumbick says demand for campsites is still there.

Goldpanners isn’t restricting guests to B.C. residents only but anyone from out of province will have to follow the guidelines like everyone else.

The campground notifies their guests a week prior to their arrival with check in instructions and has revamped the office to deal with self-distancing issues.

“We don’t ask what city people are from. So far people have been respectful,” Baumbick says.

Orville Matties of Swan Lake RV Park & Campground in Vernon says he’s had a number of guests staying for longer terms this year, and has only a half dozen sites available for recreational campers. He’s organized washroom use based on camping parties and isn’t concerned with where his guests come from, so long as they follow the COVID-19 protocols.

“I’m pretty much full for the summer. We would normally have more sites, so I’m saying no to a lot of people,” Matties says, adding he’s hearing from a lot of B.C. residents looking for a campsite this year.

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