Popular recreation site to become pay-for-service campground next year

The recently installed dock at Martin’s Lake will continue to be available to the public free of charge.

A hot spot near the Town of Princeton will be a fee-for-service provincial campground next year.

Recreation Sites and Trails B.C., under the authority of the provincial forestry ministry, has begun construction on ten campsites at Martin’s Lake. They will eventually be available to campers for between $10 and $12 per night.

Tim Bennett, district forest operations officer, said developing the area into a campground with some supervision makes sense.

“We had a call from a local resident who wanted to the see the site maintained a little better,” he said. “The site has been very localized to the community. It’s a bit different from our normal recreation sites.”

That neighbour to the campground will be its operator, he said.

Martin’s Lake, just 3 km from town on Princeton Summerland Road, has always been the responsibility of the province but it’s been undeveloped for several years.

Regional district Area H director Bob Coyne said he welcomes the news, adding that the site has become problematic with visitors leaving garbage and overstaying their welcome.

Last year, the RDOS partnered with the fisheries ministry and several local businesses to build a fishing dock for local and tourist enjoyment.

“It was an overwhelming success. So the site got an awful lot of use this year to the point where we had people who decided it would be a great place to live.”

Camping on Crown land is limited to 14 nights.

“Sites and trails had to get involved…they had to get involved and get the RCMP involved and come and basically move some people along.”

Once camper squatted at Martin’s Lake from May through August, and there were reports of rowdy parties being held in the area, he said.

The province’s plan “is really good stuff. We are going to end up with a pretty nice campsite there and I think it’s fantastic.”

Bennett said improvements to the site will cost approximately $50,000. That includes the grading of the designated campsites, the installation of fire rings, bathroom facilities and picnic tables.

The picnic tables alone cost $1,400 each.

Bennett said he recognizes developing the site into a pay-for-service campground may frustrate some local users, but added there are numerous provincial camping spaces in the area that are available at no charge.

The park will be open, free of charge, for day use like swimming and fishing, he said.

“The money being [collected] isn’t going back to the government….They go back to the site operator for services and supplies and surplus funding would go back to the site.

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