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Didsbury's winter camping pilot profit near $10,000

Mayor Rhonda Hunter commended the Didsbury campground hosts for their efforts during the winter pilot trial

DIDSBURY - Council has approved winter camping at the Rosebud Valley Campground on an ongoing basis following a pilot project at the town-owned facility last winter.

The move came by way of motion at the recent council meeting, held in person and on YouTube.

The pilot project took place between October and March, with eight sites open on the inner loop at the campground, located in east Didsbury.

Winter camping rates were temporarily set at $650 a month per site.

Administration presented a summary report on the pilot to council.

Revenue collected during the pilot totaled $19,371.62, including $4,986 in March and $3,891 in January.

“According to the campground host, tenancy did fluctuate during these months (October to March), however they were able to fill vacancies quickly,” the report states. “Guests using the campground were a mix of snowbirds, people working in the area and other regular guests. Five of the winter guests have stayed on for the spring season.”

Regarding expenses, the report stated, “Garbage collection ceased between October and March annually prior to the trial, so collection during the trial was a direct cost” and “utilities (power, gas, water/wastewater) were consumed during the winter months prior to the trial to supply the office, washrooms and light display. Utility consumption for the winter trial was calculated by taking the difference between 2021-22 winter months and the 2022-23 winter trial months.”

Off-season contractor costs of $500 per month were already included in the budget prior to the trial being approved, and no additional contract costs were incurred as a result of the trial.

Garbage collection costs totalled $975.24, water/wastewater costs totalled $584.72, natural gas costs totalled $104.30, and winter trial camping power costs totalled $7,736.40.

“The total cost of utilities related to the winter camping trial totalled $9,400. After reducing the revenues by this amount, the winter camping trial profited $9,970.96 for the 2022-23 season.”

In preparing the report, administration met with the campground host to gather feedback. 

“The host felt that the trial was a success and expressed that it was appreciated by the guests. The guests built a community at the campground during this time and often rented facilities within Didsbury to host potlucks, games nights, etc.”

Council passed two motions, one approving winter camping at the campground on an ongoing basis.

The second motion called on administration to come back with a report on issues such as future snow removal costs and camping fees.

Mayor Rhonda Hunter commended the campground hosts for their efforts during the winter pilot trial.

“They do a wonderful job, they really do,” said Hunter. “I extend our gratitude to our campground hosts.”

Councillor Joyce McCoy did not attend the June 13 council meeting.

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