Helping North Huron to help them help me - Denny Scott editorial
It’s been awhile since I tackled an idea like this, so bear with me here because I may be a little rusty. The kind of idea, since I know our loyal readers are likely asking, is the one that will be without finger-wagging, without undertone and without innuendo. Well, without finger-wagging and possibly without undertone.
During North Huron Council’s Nov. 7 meeting, the discussion about what to do with the Blyth Campground came up again. The pilot project, which saw 25 “enhanced” sites created, may or may not have been successful (we’ll have to wait for another report on that), but the campground as a whole ran a deficit of nearly $45,000. So, the municipality needs to figure out a way to make it successful and I may just have an idea that could help: year-round usage.
A couple of years back, my wife and I were looking at going seasonal with our trailer to get the most possible use out of it. We
found a site and prepared to move in. We then had a great summer. Unfortunately, with a price increase of nearly 10 per cent for the next season, it just wasn’t financially viable for us to stay there, so we had to pull out after a single season (and trust me, the only thing I hate more than pulling out is backing in).
While my daughter undoubtedly missed the pool and the young neighbours she played with, and my wife definitely mourned the loss of her biweekly campfires, the thing I miss the most is the fact that, if we had stayed, we wouldn’t have had to figure out where to put our camper throughout the winter.
The first winter we had it, we parked it next to our house. Unfortunately, it required so much shoring-up to keep it level that I was paranoid it was going to slide down at some point and take out my neighbour’s fence. As a result, this year, we’re keeping it in the driveway, right beside our house.
While it may be easier to keep an eye on it there, it certainly won’t make blowing out the driveway any easier and it will end up forcing one of us to park at the bottom of our lengthy laneway, since I don’t like leaving a vehicle parked on an incline.
Sorry, I went on a bit of a tangent there - I love having a trailer, I just hate having to live with it.
But in that frustration, I found the answer to North Huron’s problem: storage!
According to North Huron’s website there are 650 sites at the campground. Now, I wouldn’t suggest using all of them, but if a block of, say, 150 could be fenced off, it could easily pay down the rest of that deficit.
How? Well, I’ve done a bit of research (purely academic, if my wife asks… she says the problems I have with trying to get the blower around it are “me” problems) and storage businesses charge as much as $1,000 for the winter for larger trailers and just about half that for a trailer the size of ours. So, box off 150 sites, charge $350 per site (or $700 for those really long trailers) and you’ve got $52,500.
Of course, you’ll have to pay for the fencing panels, which, at six feet tall and almost 10 feet wide, would probably cost about $100,000 (light-duty temporal fence panels running $89.95, which would buy just shy of 1,000 panels) so let's throw in another 50 sites and, in six years, that’s paid off. (Sorry, normally I like to research these things better, but it was remarkably difficult to find any kind of pricing on portable fence barriers, and I wasn’t about to waste some poor salesman’s time with a hypothetical ‘what if’.)
Those same panels could probably be rented out for special events at the site, like beverage gardens at baseball tournaments, meaning they would be paid off even sooner.
Of course, we’d need some market research to see if there’s a need for that much storage, but people apparently went RV nuts during the pandemic, so it could be there. (Ash and I had always planned to buy an RV, but the COVID-19 pandemic fast-tracked that plan.)
Now, I know people would probably question just how safe winter storage at the campground would be, but it’s not like the
area is abandoned in the winter. People walk there often, and North Huron staff are on site everyday. It would be just as safe as the rest of the campground is throughout the winter.
I did make this suggestion to Councillor Kevin Falconer after the council meeting had ended, but that was before I put any real thought into it. Even using just over one-third of the campground (250 sites), the municipality could bring in $87,500 over the winter, meaning that any actual camping that happens over the summer is pure gravy on top of that.
That’s a pretty great idea, right? And I won’t even charge North Huron for it. I’ll just be happy to not have to maneuver my snowblower around my trailer and be able to support my municipality while paying for a service I want anyway.