Let’s say the Town of Oliver gives the green light to dismantle Centennial RV Park to make way for a hotel.
Let’s say the hotel is a success and boosts the local economy with jobs and spin-off effects. Many visitors would no longer have to find hotel accommodation in Osoyoos or Penticton during hockey tournaments and other events.
A new hotel might even prompt other entrepreneurs to open businesses . . . to fill some of Oliver’s empty storefronts.
But aren’t we forgetting something?
Where will our fifth wheel residents and campers stay in Oliver now that their beautiful home away from home is gone?
Isn’t the Town going to build a new municipal RV park? Don’t count on it because it’s not in their mandate to do such a thing.
But one could argue that it has some responsibility since it will potentially destroy a well-utilized business asset.
Although not legally obligated, council should do what it can to help establish another RV park in a natural setting.
It sent out letters to woo a hotel developer, so why can’t it send out letters to woo an RV park builder?
In good conscience, the Town can’t simply do away with Centennial RV Park without doing something to accommodate our fifth wheel visitors. These people might not come back to Oliver, and may tell their camper friends that there’s nothing here for them. Word of mouth travels fast.
The other issue is the trees in Centennial Park. Presumably several will have to be cut down for the hotel development.
In the past, council has raised concerns about people cutting beautiful trees down and not replacing them. Are they going to replace these trees that took many years to grow?
There is no doubt that an 80-room hotel is great news for Oliver, and something we should not pass up. But there are other locations that can and should be explored in more detail. If those don’t pan out and Centennial RV Park is the hotel’s future home, then council should add another strategic priority on its list – establishing a new RV park, or at least making land available for one.
Lyonel Doherty, editor