The Yukon government is considering making some territorial campsites available for season-long leasing to recreational vehicles, which the opposition says will hinder fair and equal access to campgrounds.
The Yukon NDP released an internal document this week that shows the government has been considering different ways of increasing facilities for RV users.
“The limited capacity of some existing campgrounds within two to three hours of Whitehorse has created some difficulties for Yukoners to find RV spaces. Meanwhile campgrounds beyond three hours of Whitehorse are less popular and reportedly underutilized,” according to the document, dated May 12, 2015.
The paper describes four possible solutions. The first is to let RV users lease some sites in campgrounds more than two or three hours from Whitehorse for extended periods, or to build new sites for leasing in those campgrounds.
Potential locations include Johnson Lake, Takhini River and Teslin Lake. The document also lists several services that could be offered to RV users, including sani-stations, water hook-ups, power and Internet access.
NDP MLA Kate White raised the issue in the legislature this week.
“The government wants to set aside campsites to lease to a few lucky RV owners for the summer through a lottery process,” she said on Thursday. “Yukon parks are a public asset and, as such, they should be available to all on an equal basis.”
White said she is also concerned that leasing RV sites in territorial campgrounds will create unfair competition for private RV parks, and she’s calling for public consultation on the matter.
In the assembly, Resources Minister Scott Kent responded that the idea is being considered simply to attract more people to underused campgrounds further from Whitehorse.
“This isn’t about any competition with the private sector,” he said. “It’s not about tying up some of our favourite spots or some of the campgrounds that are busy.”
However, the May 2015 document suggests that granting licences for too long “may put pressure on space availability.” Another possible disadvantage of the plan, according to the paper, is that leases “may be seen as competition for private RV businesses.”
White also suggested the government was planning to start leasing campsites to RVs this coming season. She referred to an internal email obtained by the NDP from July 27 that appears to set out a timeline for the project.
In early August, according to the email, a “high level work plan” should be developed “which ends with an ad in the paper in April 2016 and licences in place when the campgrounds open in May.”
But Kent said that’s not the current plan.
“This will not be anything that’s considered for next camping season,” he said, adding that the proposal is just a “concept.”
The May 2015 document points out that long-term RV campsite leases exist in other jurisdictions, including British Columbia and the Northwest Territories.
The other three options included in the paper are to partner with First Nations to develop RV parks on public or First Nation land, to purchase private land that the government would develop into an RV park or to tender land for a private company to develop.
Currently, campers are supposed to limit their stay in any territorial campground to 14 nights in a 30-day period. But this year, conflicts arose at some campgrounds near Whitehorse over people occupying campsites for extended periods, even when they weren’t actually staying at the site every night.
Last month, the government announced it is investing $522,000 in the territory’s campgrounds this fiscal year, in part to add a total of 22 new campsites to the Marsh Lake, Wolf Creek and Twin Lakes campgrounds. The government is also building a new 35-site campground near Carcross, scheduled to open in May 2016.
Contact Maura Forrest at