The commercial arm of the Tobacco Plains Indian Band hopes to provide security for the community with a 30-year tenure on its campgrounds.
The Tobacco Plains Development Corporation (TPDC) has applied to the B.C. Government for a long-term Licence of Occupation (LOO) at two of its three campgrounds on Lake Koocanusa, southwest of Fernie, amid planned upgrades.
An LOO is a type of tenure issued by the province to groups wanting to use Crown land in remote areas, where lands are needed for uses that are not permanent or where there are specific restrictions or management objectives.
A licence is normally issued for a term of 10 years, however, the TPDC hopes to be approved for a 30-year LOO.
Working closely with the Tobacco Plains community, the commercial corporation operates three campgrounds on Lake Koocanusa – Big Springs, Dorr Road and Ayes Ranch – as well as the Tobacco Plains Duty Free store and Edwards Lake lease lots.
TPDC CEO Garry Merkel said these operations provided the community with many benefits, including employment, financial returns and increased exposure, involvement and reputability in the local economy.
Big Springs has 65 campsites and is owned by Tobacco Plains, while Ayes Ranch (145 sites) and Dorr Road (67 sites) are operated under annually renewed LOOs.
Merkel said moving Ayes Ranch and Dorr Road to long-term LOOs will provide TPDC with the tenure security to invest in further improvements, such as water and septic system upgrades, central gathering facilities, improved beach access and additional campsites.
“These are all currently planned over the next few years once the long-term LOO is in place,” he said.
The TPDC expects to fund all campground upgrades using revenue from existing operations and has been working closely with the province on its LOO applications for the past year.
The Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRODO) is taking submissions on the Dorr Road LOO until September 8.
The public comment period for Ayes Ranch closed on August 17.
To have your say, search file number 4405924 at Arfd.gov.bc.ca/ApplicationPosting.
Written comments can also be directed to Authorizations Specialist, FLNRORD, Kootenay Boundary Region, 1902 Theatre Road, Cranbrook BC V1C 7G1.
Editor’s note: the print version of this story included a photo caption that indicated a new campground was proposed at Lake Koocanusa. The image was sourced from a PDF contained in the TPDC’s application and downloaded from the B.C. Government’s website. However, there are no new campgrounds proposed by TPDC at Lake Koocanusa – only upgrades to existing facilities. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.