If Champlain Township council approves a recommendation from its Committee of the Whole Meeting, the L’Orignal Campground will close in 2024.
A report to council from the Parks and Recreation department, which oversees the campground and lot rentals, states that the average operational debt from 2019 to 2022 was around $39,000 per year. According to the report, this debt does not capture any capital project amounts invested throughout the years nor does it take into consideration the Recreation Coordinator and the Director’s time managing certain aspects of the business.
A key part of the Committee of the Whole’s recommendation is that most of the campground lot rentals are not rented by Champlain Township residents. Councillors (all Champlain councillors are members of the Committee of the Whole) felt that municipal funds should be spent on services or benefits for residents. The 2023 campground registry showed that four of the 54 rentals were made by Champlain Township residents. Seventeen rentals were by Hawkesbury residents, 17 were from Québec and 16 were from other parts of Ontario.
West Hawkesbury Councillor Gerry Miner admitted that while he felt sad about the closure, “The reason we work . . . . and spend money is for the people of Champlain. If we want it to be commercial, it would have to be bigger,” Miner said.
The campground currently has 54 seasonal lots on 2.5 acres within the L’Orignal Park, which consists of 17.5 acres. In 2009, the township spent $224,000 to upgrade the electrical infrastructure at the campground. The debt repayment will be completed in 2024. If the campground is closed in 2024, a final debt payment of about $28,000 will be incurred.
Possible plans for the future of the campground site will be part of the upcoming Parks Master Plan being undertaken by the township. The report mentions that the space could become a skating path in the winter and a shaded walking path in the summer. Public consultations will be part of determining the future of the site.
West Hawkesbury Councillor Sarah Bigelow agreed with Miner. “This is something that we don’t want to have to do, but it is the right thing to do. It is not people from Champlain Township camping there.” Bigelow continued that the campground is not generating money for the town of L’Orignal due to people bringing their own groceries and other items with them.
“I am excited for the possibilities,” Bigelow said.
Longueuil Councillor Paul Burroughs reiterated that the campground was not financially viable and that there were other things that could be done on the property. “This piece of land should be kept for our community,” said Burroughs, adding that he was ware that a skating path in Moose Creek was very popular.