Event organizers seek power use at Nanaimo’s Beban Park

NANAIMO – Onsite camping provided at reduced rate without services for equestrian, kennel club shows.

Campers overnighting at Nanaimo’s Beban Park should be able to tap into city water and power, according to animal event organizers.

The Nanaimo Kennel Club plans to petition Nanaimo city council to allow electrical and water hookups for Beban Park campers.

According to club vice-president Doug Savory, an average 500 dogs and their owners turn up for the multi-day Kennel Club Show. While people have been allowed to camp on site and are charged for the space, the city doesn’t provide washrooms, electricity or water.

The city says the park is not an actual campsite and isn’t trying to compete with campground operators. Rates are comparable to non-serviced sites. But Savory says it’s not feasible for people to go to campsites and those staying at Beban would like to be able to plug in grooming equipment, give their animals air conditioning and wash dishes.

“We’d just like to feel like we’re being helped here or we’re included here and are getting the same sort of treatment as people in other communities in B.C. and the Pacific Northwest,” Savory said. “This is one of the few sites that is going backwards. This is a venue where at one point we were able to get power and now they seem to be trying to move away from that.”

Lesley Coultish, president of the Nanaimo Equestrian Association, also wants to see the city reconsider its policy, pointing out other communities have been able to cater to people attending events on their grounds by putting in banks of electrical outlets.

“People don’t come to Beban Park to camp for fun,” she said. “It’s not like you are going to a park … where there’s a nice lake and you are going to sit around a campfire. You are there because you are at an event that requires you to be on site for your animals.”

The association says it lost a three-day quarter horse show event because it lacked plug-ins. Horses can be worth more than $25,000 and people want to place equipment in the stalls for safe keeping; they are not going to go somewhere else to sleep overnight, Coultish said.

Mary Smith, the city’s manager of recreation services, is aware of the call for power, but said it would require a change in policy. While the equestrian association and Vancouver Island Exhibition have allowed people to tap in to services in their barns and buildings, it’s never been provided by the city and is contrary to policy.

Petition signatures are currently being collected. The kennel club hopes to present it to Nanaimo city council by early next year.