Hearing on proposed Big Pond RV park packed

Hearing on proposed Big Pond RV park packed

More than 100 people crowded Cape Breton regional council chambers, as well as an overflow room, for a public hearing into a proposed RV park Tuesday afternoon.

Calgary-based developer Chris Skidmore wants to build the park on 40 hectares of land on the shore of the Bras d'Or Lake in Big Pond, N.S., about 35 kilometres southwest of Sydney.

The development could eventually include as many as 541 RV sites and 64 tenting sites.

'Our quiet place of respite'

That would effectively increase the community's population by a factor of five, said resident Debbie Moffatt, who worried about the "boisterous atmosphere" that may result.

Plans for the project include a pool, boathouse, clubhouse, convenience store and water playground.

"The campers attracted to this RV park will be leaving their quiet homes," said Moffatt. "They're looking for the fun and excitement that this RV park can provide. We chose this zone as our home. Our quiet place of respite. We have a fundamental right to our quality of life."

Other people raised concerns about the effect on well water and the ecology of the lake.

Potential benefits

While most of the presenters opposed the project, Terry MacPherson listed what he sees as the potential benefits, including improved public access to the lake.

"There will be professional services jobs connected with the environmental approvals that need to be secured. There will be construction jobs. There will be carpentry, electrical, landscaping. When the facility is operational, there will be jobs associated with that," MacPherson said.

He said he also sees potential spinoff benefits for the nearby marina, golf club and ski hill in Ben Eoin, as well as for Big Pond's current major tourist draw, Rita's Tea Room.

CBRM council will vote on a zoning amendment, needed for the project to proceed, at its next council meeting on Feb. 27.

The developer would then also need to secure approvals from the province, including from the departments of Environment and Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.