Where can you camp in Valemount? The answer may not be as cut and dry as you think.
Groups of overnight campers, both at the post office and the elementary school, have sparked debate over whether or not a bylaw exists to prevent camping in undesignated locations.
Dean Schneider, Bylaw Officer for the Village of Valemount, says beyond telling them to move along, his hands are tied.
As it stands now, there is no bylaw prohibiting camping in undesignated locations. The closest pertaining law reads a vehicle cannot be parked on public property for more than 24 hours, but Schneider says typically by that point the campers will have moved on.
When asked if there were any fines, ramifications or deterrents in place to prevent tourists from camping in undesignated locations, Schneider said, “No.”
“There are no fines in place, so there is nothing I can do,” he says.
“If people camp in a posted no-camping area I usually tell them we have campgrounds that would offer them a spot,” he says, making note of Canoe River and Yellowhead Campgrounds, Rocky RV and IRVin’s RV Parks, as well as Valemount Pines Golf and RV Park.
“I’ve never fined anybody,” says Schneider. “There really isn’t anything that speaks to them spending the night off to the side of the street,” he says.
While there are signs posted in areas telling people camping is not permitted, the signs aren’t everywhere. More demand could lead to a few more signs, Schneider says, but he asks, “Where do you draw the limit on putting out signs?”
Shay Bernicky, whose family owns Valemount Pines Golf and RV Park, says it’s unfortunate for the village and its businesses to lose revenue over an easily fixable issue.
“It sucks for businesses here to see that,” says Bernicky. “We have more than enough campgrounds in this little town to accommodate people, and they’re all right off the highway.”
With tourism numbers being higher this year than last, Bernicky says the Village should be encouraging people to pay the $10 or $15 to stay at a designated campground.
If there was high enough demand, Schneider noted that council could create a bylaw, and if people are concerned to contact Village staff.