Southern Vancouver Island campers will have more camping options to choose from for the coming season.
An expansion to the Pacheedaht Campground will boost the options for those pitching their tent in the Port Renfrew area, while those visiting the Lake Cowichan area can choose camping sites at Laketown Ranch, typically the host of major summer music festivals.
The Pacheedaht Campground expansion is part of the B.C. Rural Economic Recovery program and will add about 20 new serviced and unserviced campsites, washroom facilities, parking and improved access with the $992,589 grant.
“We are working to support economic recovery in every corner of the province, so families and communities can get through the pandemic and start looking towards their futures again,” said Premier John Horgan, also MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca.
Work will begin “almost immediately” on the project that will span the 2.25 kilometres of shoreline the campsite fronts, said Robert Sagmeister, economic development manager for Pacheedaht First Nation.
The Pacheedaht site, currently closed to campers due to current COVID protocols, has seen a steady increase in visitors, with staff often turning visitors away from a full campsite, particularly over long weekends.
“The area is becoming more and more popular as time marches on. We definitely see an increase in campers,” Sagmeister said.
“To us, it’s an evolution, improving our infrastructure and try to meet the market demand – and to give folks what they’ve been requesting.”
As part of B.C.’s $10-billion COVID-19 response, the Rural Economic Recovery program will grant a total of $20 million for 38 rural projects province-wide.
The province also announced that the WorkLink Employment Society would receive $280,000 for a mobile visitor and business information centre in Port Renfrew.
Laketown Ranch to welcome campers this summer
With large events again in limbo for now, Laketown Ranch is opening its festival site for camping this summer.
The site, well known for events like Sunfest and Laketown Shakedown, is accepting reservations for camping between May 21 and Sept. 30, during non-event weeks, if events are allowed to happen this year.
The campsites will be located on the upper part of the festival site, away from the highway. Showers, flush toilets and boat storage available to campers.
“Nestled amongst the forest and rolling pastures of the beautiful upper level of the ranch, the grounds are the ideal camping location for families, groups and those simply looking for a quiet escape,” the post stated. “Stay on the property and enjoy activities such as hiking, biking, and more or head out for a day trip to explore the lake and all the other wonders the area has to offer. On selected nights you’ll be able to enjoy live music, food and good company in our new camp village.”
Mike Hann, Laketown Ranch events manager, says 190 campsites, including nine group sites will initially be available. Smaller sites can be combined to make more group sites if necessary.
“If there is more demand for group sites, we can create more,” Hann said. “We are pretty malleable.”
In most years, group sites would be based on 16 to 32 occupants, but as of right now, both group and regular sites will be limited to eight people, based on provincial health regulations related to COVID-19.
The campground will have other COVID policies based on provincial regulations, including contact tracing. Laketown Ranch is also working with health authorities on a way to have live music at the campground on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the summer.
The 2021 festivals are up in the air at this point. They haven’t been cancelled, and Laketown Ranch is waiting for further word from the provincial health authorities.
“We are going to remain optimistic,” Hann said. “We have all our ducks in a row and will move forward if we are given the go-ahead.”
For more information about camping at Laketown Ranch, visit laketownranch.com/campground