The Cumberland Lake Park campground continues to attract more people, says its executive director.
In her annual report from the Cumberland Lake Wilderness Society to Cumberland council, Genevieve Burdett said the lake again was a busy place, to the extent that they were full during July and August.
The report covers a number of issues such as boat launch traffic, food concessions and day-use services.
The increase shows a steady climb in visitors to the park in recent years, even during COVID-19. In fact, the situation may be leading more people on Vancouver Island to stay closer to home for vacations.
Many of the guests again came from nearby. About a quarter were from the region, just over half from the rest of Vancouver Island and just under a quarter from the rest of B.C. or elsewhere.
The situation is a bonus for the Village, which receives dividends for the funding it has put into the site.
“We had a record-breaking year,” Burdett told council. “You do get a return on your investment.”
In all, there was an occupancy rate of 85 per cent, a 22 per cent increase this year over 2019, the last year without any COVID-19 closures.
“We were busier than we’ve ever been,” she said.
For dividends, the park paid back $38,600 to the village, which was up 41 per cent from last year. There is also another $29,000 spent on programming, such as outdoor educational opportunities for school kids and the community at large.
They are investing about $24,000 in capital projects on-site, such as a roof on the picnic shelter and design work for a nature playground. This included $9,272 for the former and just over $7,800 for the latter. The estimate to erect the playground is about $70,000, for which the society has put aside about $15,000 and raised another $11,000 from businesses.
“Our goal is to raise half the project costs,” Burdett said.
The hope is they can access some Restart funding through the village to cover the balance.
This also marked the second year for the park to have a full-time park interpreter. Some of the events included hikes, kids’ programs, guest speakers and canoe tours, with about 800 participants in all.
“Our mission is to create wonder and connection through outdoor experiences,” Burdett said.
There are also school programs and programs linked to child care spaces.
However, there are challenges with the growth, as Burdett and council discussed ongoing issues such as traffic and parking, especially during the busy summer months. Other concerns mentioned in the report are illegal camping and police enforcement issues. Burdett also stressed the need for more freshwater recreation sites in the area to take some of the demand off the park.
Council members were again impressed to see the developments at the park and campground. Coun. Gwyn Sproule contrasted the situation to years ago when they were simply trying to get a few people to visit, and she complimented the society on their efforts, especially the nature-oriented interpretive work at the park.
“It is world-class,” she said. “I’m really thrilled that there are all these programs.”