City aims to solve camping concerns for special events

Nanaimo policies currently do not allow any kind of camping on city-owned property; however, there are exceptions

Concerns around an upcoming review of camping on city property has some fearing events like the regional and national dog agility competitions might never happen in Nanaimo again.

Nanaimo policies currently do not allow any kind of camping on city-owned property; however, there are exceptions, including the Nanaimo Equestrian Association, which manages the Agriplex, riding rings, and fields adjacent to the Vancouver Island Exhibition land. It is allowed to offer camping to participants as long as the units are self-contained.

“People won’t leave their animals in trailers or stalls overnight so we offer on site dry camping,” said Lesley Coltish, president of the equestrian group.

“It’s a great facility,” she added. “Especially for smaller, less-expensive events.”

Over the past few years, the association made several improvements to the arenas and building it leases from the City of Nanaimo, including an upgrade to footing material in the riding ring and Agriplex, a sprinkler system, and a better show office.

“The improvements attracted a major event, the Nanaimo Quarter Horse Show,” said Coltish. “If we didn’t have on-site camping, that wouldn’t have happened.”

Neither would the national dog agility trials held over the weekend.

Bernadette Van Klavaren, event chairwoman, said one of the requirements for a city to submit a bid for the trial is on-site camping.

“We’d never be able to host nationals in Nanaimo again,” Van Klavaren said. “There just aren’t any other facilities.”

Mary Smith, manager of recreation and culture services, said the city supports and encourages events like dog shows and the ones hosted by the equestrian association.

“We’ve had a higher than normal request for camping on the city property this year, with the two major dog events and equestrian shows,” said Smith. “These kind of events encourage people to come to our town.”

Smith added that the issue of camping on park property has not been reviewed for 10 years.

In June, Richard Harding, director of Parks, Recreation and Culture, sent a report to the commission recommending it refer the issue to the recreation committee for this fall.

Neither Coltish nor Smith are concerned there might be drastic changes.