Canyon Ski Resort was closed Friday due to the -30 C weather. The ski hill has been open to the public since Nov. 11; the earliest the hill has ever opened. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Canyon Ski Resort was closed Friday due to the -30 C weather. The ski hill has been open to the public since Nov. 11; the earliest the hill has ever opened. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Campground proposed near Canyon Ski Resort

Proposal would see 202 RV spots and 70 tent sites on flat land above ski slopes

A Canyon Ski Resort proposal to build a 202-RV and 70-tent site campground was put on hold after Red Deer County’s municipal planning commission expressed reservations about its potential impact on roads and neighbours.

Canyon’s owners want to build the campground on a flat area above the popular ski area, which draws 1,200 to 1,500 visitors a day during good skiing and snowboarding weather. The ski resort is owned by David and Robyn Martel and her parents Alios and Marie Kunc.

Neighbours have raised concerns about the prospect of hundreds of campers being drawn to the area during camping season, putting pressure on local roads and potentially causing noise, littering, crime and trespassing issues. Nine letters of concern were sent to the county, which also included concerns about environmental impact, loose pets, increased wildfire risk and speeding drivers.

“I have some big concerns with this,” said Coun. Jean Bota. “I’m not opposed to anyone making a living and I understand that.”

However, she questioned the size of the proposed campground.

Bota initially proposed a motion to deny the campground application. But after much debate, in which other councillors raised concerns about the proposal, she moved to defer the application to get more information from the proponents. It was passed unanimously.

“We have people who live along those roads and we have to accommodate and be considerate of that,” she said.

The scale of the project and what would happen if it proves to have a negative impact also concerned Coun. Connie Huelsman.

“This is a huge undertaking for the county. If it goes south I feel sorry for the people who live around there.”

It was suggested that a better approach might be to approve a campground half the size and see how that goes before considering an expansion. Councillors also wanted to see the site fenced to keep campers and pets inside and for a study done of the local road system and what upgrades would be needed to handle the big increase in traffic.

Coun. Richard Lorenz said there are many unanswered questions and the owners should have an opportunity to address those concerns and whether phasing in the campground would be financially feasible.

“They need to know where they are going to be at the end of it and we need to know where we’re going to be,” said Lorenz.

Mayor Jim Wood said the proponents faced a “lot of hurdles” but believed the project could go forward if area residents’ concerns are addressed with measures such as fencing and road upgrades.

“I do believe in this time of COVID and people not being able to travel campgrounds have been a very, very important function in our community,” he said.

If county and neighbour concerns cannot be resolved the proposal will die, he added.

The Martels participated in the planning commission meeting by Zoom but were not asked to respond to the commission’s concerns. County planners will meet with the ski resort’s owners to discuss the issues raised and a report will come back to the planning commission. No return date was set.

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