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UPDATED – Perth debates future of campground at Last Duel Park

by | Oct 9, 2019 | Local News | 4 comments

Perth council is considering closing the Last Duel Park campground and repurposing the land as public space for residents and visitors, at the recommendation of staff.

“So the main issues, were raised at council a month ago by the campers themselves – the biggest one being the security down there. We don’t have security full time, 24/7 so there are many times when campers don’t have that protection,” Director of Community Services Shannon Baillon, told Lake 88.

In the 2019 season there were at least 10 instances where the OPP had to be called to the campground and all but two of those incidents occurred when staff were no longer on duty.

While security is the biggest concern, the reality is that the campground also sits in the floodplain and currently has thirteen sites situated right at the edge of the shoreline.

“As stewards of the land, we should consider relocating the shore sites and allowing natural vegetation to thrive, and rejuvenate the shoreline,” said Baillon.

Staff have looked at the some of the improvements that would need to take place at the campground to make it more viable.

Besides increased staffing levels, Baillon suggests that the town would need to invest a minimum of $215,000 in security gates, security gate software and card readers, a new dumping station and tank, renovate the washrooms and laundry facilities, add a kitchen and eating shelter and that’s just scratching the surface.  The town would also have to increase annual operating costs by at least $50K plus for additional staffing.

“Security gates won’t be enough,” said Mayor John Fenik “The park is open on all sides, we’d have to build a wall around the entire park to ensure security.”

Operating the park with or without the campground has little financial impact on the town.  Either way the park costs more to run than it generates in revenue.  This year it cost the town $76,000 to operate the park with revenues coming in at $69,400.  Without the campground it would cost the town $14,000 to operate the park with $7,000 in projected revenue from the public docks and boat launch.

Staff are recommending closing the campground at the end of this season.

“I certainly support the recommendation and that what we do with it is for further discussion, but we need to make the area available to every resident in Perth,” said Councillor David Bird.

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4 Comments

  1. Douglas Crowder

    What about the $1000’s that is spent by the people camping in the park whether it is the seasonal or transient campers. What affect will there be on local business when 100’s of people.atr no longer spending money in Perth, (grocery, restaurant, shops, tourist. We figure ourselves we spend $3000+ over the summer on groceries, that will go to another town if the park closes. How many businesses will suffer with the loss of tourists spending time in Perth. If they camp elsewhere that is where there money will be spent. Raise the price a little more, people will come. Don’t throw away something that is good for the whole town.

    Reply
  2. Jerry Redmond

    I agree whole heartily with Mr. Crowder’s comments. As usual, the town is taking the easy way out instead of putting a little effort into making the campground safe and profitable. The town businesses will definitely see a loss in summer revenue, but that’s OK, its not a town loss.
    Extremely disappointing to see such little effort coming from town council.

    Reply
  3. Lynn Tremblay

    There are so many misleading issues to discuss in this scenario put forth by John Fenik and his council, it is difficult to know where to begin.

    How about starting with Fenik’s wall. I have camped for many years in both the US and all the provinces in Canada and have never heard of a national, provincial or municipal campground with a wall around it. There are possibly some private ones in the US that do but none that I have heard of. A simple unmanned security gate with a swipe pass card would do wonders for this park. For one thing, it would discourage non-campers from driving through late at night to party with their friends who are residing at the campground. It would also make it more difficult for people who camp in other places to come in to use the dumping station, especially at the end of the season, without paying for the service. The combination lock number is well known in the area and usually, the lock is stolen or disposed of so that it can be free for all. The dumping station can certainly handle the needs of the paying campers.

    The washrooms aren’t fancy but adequate, each with two stalls and two showers and two sinks. Properly cleaned in the morning and checked on and maintained during the day by the staff, already being paid to do so, eliminates any problems there. Again. a swipe security card issued to paying campers would certainly cut down on work for the staff as the combination to all of the facilities are well known around town and often used by non-campers. The laundry is also adequate for campers only and the single request by campers is that it be kept clean on a regular basis. Camping is about bonfires and barbeques. No one has requested a kitchen although a simple eating shelter for tenters is an excellent idea and most campgrounds do provide one. I camped at Last Duel several times this summer instead of being a seasonal camper and once again found Peter to be helpful and very competent. Perhaps he could use an extra staff member with the campground becoming more and more popular and bringing in more revenue.

    When I first saw Last Due Park, I was very impressed with the beautiful grounds leading up to the campground area. The waterfront had picnic tables and lots of places for wading and fishing and enjoying the river. Since then it has been neglected and overgrown. What a shame that there is barely a place where anyone can access the water or let their dog go for a swim. The beautiful river is hidden from the public.

    Last but not least, the budget. If it costs $76,000 to run it with the campground minus $14,000 to run the park without it, that means it costs $62,000 to run the campground. The revenue from the campground is $64,900. Simple math shows that the revenue from the campground helps pays for the maintenance of the rest of the park. On top of that, the campground’s revenues have been on the rise. Visitors to Perth need a place to stay. I love the convenience of walking into Perth to shop and frequent the restaurants. Not many campgrounds can offer that.

    Tourism is an integral part of the economy and I can’t understand why, once again, Fenik is determined to close this wonderful attraction when the town was so against it just a couple of years ago.

    Reply
  4. Diane Jackson

    I agree with all comments made about this issue. I have camp I this park for 40 years My boys were raised on this river I
    hope that the council members and Fenik would reconsider and leave the park open to campers What a loss to the town and all the campers.

    Reply

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