Riverside Campground gets go-ahead By Bob Barnett Work on the Riverside Campground will start by mid-June and 64 recreational vehicle campsites will be serviced and ready in time for next winter, following council approval of the project late Monday night. But frustration with the delay in development of the campground — the rezoning application received third reading in September, 1997 — prompted councillors to seek assurances the entire project would be built in a timely manner. The project was briefly deferred by council Monday night while municipal staff and the developers, Campco Investments, met to discuss the construction schedule. The project was finally approved by council about 11:30 p.m. The campground, on a site straddling Fitzsimmons Creek between Spruce Grove Park and Nicklaus North, will be built in phases. The first phase includes most of the facilities on the west side of Fitzsimmons Creek, accessed from Mons road, including the serviced RV campsites, a 17,750 square foot lodge building and 14 cabins. The second phase includes building a bridge across Fitzsimmons Creek to access 29 car camping sites and 64 walk-in camping sites, as well as providing services to comfort stations. The third phase will be a recreation building, including a swimming pool, on the east side of the creek. A series of deadlines for completition of each phase was one of the conditions of approval by council. However, construction of the bridge, which will provide access to the west side campsites, is subject to approval by the Ministry of Environment. Work in the creek can only be done during a two-three week window in late August. Nigel Woods, who formed a joint venture partnership with International Land Corp. to create Campco Investments, said the company plans to do channel work and build footings for the bridge in August of 2000, but it will probably be the following year before the car and walk-in campsites are ready. "We’ve got a three-year window to build the whole thing, and it will probably take that long," Woods said. Woods said if approval hadn’t been granted for the project this week it would have been delayed another full year. The final agreement worked out by municipal staff and Campco in the hallways of Myrtle Philip school stipulates that the third phase, the swimming pool and recreation building, must be completed within one year of phase II’s completion. Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, who earlier sought assurances that the pool would be built, responded that the developer could still build phase I but not phases II or III. "They came to us and said ‘this is what we’ll build’... Now they’re saying it’s going to be built in phases, and part of it might not happen," Wilhelm-Morden said. Administrator Jim Godfrey agreed there is a risk the MoE might not approve the bridge for phase II. But Councillor Ken Melamed suggested any campground was better than none. "I had to make compromises (regarding the project’s impact on the environment)," Melamed said. "We’ve been let down. We expected to have a campground by now, but I have to make a leap of faith." Whistler has been without a campground since the former KOA campground was closed nearly four years ago. One of the day-skier parking lots has served as an unofficial campground for the last few years and is often filled with recreational vehicles. Phase I of the Riverside project, which includes the three-storey lodge housing a reception area, administration, laundry and washroom facilities, a deli and convenience store and 8,848 square feet of employee housing, must be finished within 18 months of the start of construction. Woods said there are probably several reasons the project has taken so long to get final approval. "We fell between councils, there have been two or three different planners involved and it just didn’t proceed as quickly as it should have," Woods said.