Soaring demand for outdoor getaways is driving a major expansion at Ol’ MacDonalds Resort on Buffalo Lake.
An application to rezone 40 acres for 150 to 200 additional full-service campsites is awaiting final approval with Stettler County.
“We’re just in the planning stages right now. Hopefully, we can start moving a little dirt here soon,” said Kevin MacDonald, who owns the resort with his mother Jean.
If all goes according to plan, the additional campsites will be ready for the 2010 season.
The resort, which opened in 1985, has been steadily expanded in recent years. Three years ago, 91 full-service sites were added with help from a pipeline company that was looking for a seasonal camp for its workers. Another 37 unserviced camping spots were added last fall and are expected to be ready in June. Those sites will boost the resort’s total to just under 460 full, partial and unserviced sites.
MacDonald said despite the growth, he can’t keep up with demand from Albertans looking for a place to park their trailers and RVs for the summer.
“There’s no slowdown around here. We’re getting calls every day for seasonal sites.”
His waiting list for sites has topped 300. The proposed expansion will make a big dent but he still won’t be able to satisfy all of those looking for space.
Driving the huge demand for campsites is a growing trend towards seasonal camping. High gas prices may also be giving campers a nudge towards setting up more permanent summer homes, rather than touring around.
“I think a lot of people don’t want to pull their trailers around. They just want to jump in the car and come to the lake for the weekend.”
A constantly ringing phone convinced the MacDonalds to drop an earlier plan to subdivide up to 100 acres for a residential subdivision.
“Now that’s been scrapped. We decided we were probably better off building sites rather than just selling land.”
The County of Stettler recently approved second reading of the rezoning bylaw. The MacDonalds must now apply for a development permit, which will outline plans for storm water management, sewage disposal and other issues. It will then go to third and final reading.
This may not be the last addition to the resort. If it goes well, MacDonald said they may look at adding more sites in the next several years.
The 40-acre family resort, west of Rochon Sands on the south side of the lake, has playgrounds, restaurant, shops, arcade, mini-golf, petting zoo and a beach.