Ministry of Parks looks to expand Rowan’s Ravine with up to 225 sites

The Government of Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sports is requesting proposals for the design, development and operation of long-term seasonal (LTS) campgrounds at Rowan’s Ravine Provincial Park.

A spokesperson for the Ministry said, “Rowan’s Ravine has the largest complement of existing seasonal sites in the provincial park system and they are full every year. Existing Sask Parks campers have expressed a desire for a long-term seasonal campground at Rowan’s Ravine.” The Ministry said they received interest from the private sector in developing additional LTS in provincial parks, including Rowan’s Ravine.

The proposal documents on Sask tenders show the land is located south of the marina. Requirements include - a maximum of 225 full-service sites that incorporate natural features - sites will have a minimum lot size of 40 x 70 ft with a minimum of 15 feet between sites. There will also be a requirement that developers build a multi-use outdoor sports court and splash/spray park outside of the LTS area, which will become the property of the park who will also maintain those two amenities.

The Ministry is encouraging innovation and creativity with the proposals; “Be sure to also think about the type of amenities and recreation opportunities that occupants would look for in addition to campsites that will make their stay just a little more comfortable. Be sure to capture all creative ideas, out of the box thinking is highly encouraged. You will not be the only LTS in the area so please think about what would set you apart from other businesses offering a similar option.”

The developer will lease and operate the campground with a percentage and base rate of fees paid to the Government. “Provincial parks are managed for the enjoyment of all park visitors. Park lands designated for this opportunity will remain publicly owned.”

The Ministry said, “Long-term seasonal developments are well researched to minimize the impact on the land, which includes completing ecological assessments and heritage resource impact assessments.”

The RM of McKillop is a neighbour to the park. Reeve Bob Schmidt said the Province didn’t consult with the RM, though he didn’t believe they were required to do so. He said because they just learned of the proposed development, they hadn’t had time to consider how it would impact the RM if the project were to go ahead. “We don’t know until we find more information. We don’t know how it will affect us.”

Getting approval for development projects like campgrounds has been difficult for developers in the RM. Rowan’s Ridge RV Resort is located just outside of the Park but in the RM took 8 years to receive approval. While the RM is in the preliminary stages of putting together the parameters of what they will approve, Pam Mcpheat, another campground developer has been trying for 3 years to get hers approved.

Macpheat owns land in the RM, 15 km from Rowan’s Ravine and has been trying to have a campground approved by the RM for three years and calls the expansion “competition at the worst time...Does the provincial government not go to the RM and say are you doing anything to expand this before we jump in...”

She said that because it’s the Provincial Government, they won’t be subject to the same requirements she’s had to go through with the RM, such as public hearings. “It’s not going to be under any of the rules that I’ve had to follow or any of the fees that I’ve had to pay to the RM…or all of the promises that I have to make to the RM about what I’m going to contribute to the roads because of the traffic ...and Poof, there it goes.”

“We do need it but we didn’t need it provincially, we needed it on the municipal level so that the tax dollars could be a benefit to everybody by another 225 sites,” said Macpheat.

The development of long-term seasonal sites isn’t new in provincial parks. The Ministry said there are currently 584 sites the private sector has developed since 2010 and because they are fully funded by the private sector, there are benefits, “Private sector delivered facilities and services remove the infrastructure investment, ongoing maintenance and management costs from the Ministry.”

They told us other benefits are the creation of jobs in the area and stimulating the local economy by using area contractors and suppliers.

The Ministry said the appeal of LTS is campers can have the same site year after year in private sector developments, which gives them the opportunity to build decks and sheds.

Jennifer Argue, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Last Mountain Times