MORRISBURG – The St. Lawrence Parks Commission has begun the process of upgrading its largest campground facility, Riverside-Cedar. Located on County Road 2, halfway between Morrisburg and Upper Canada Village, the commission says the park is in need of significant improvements.
SLPC spokesperson Heather Kearney said that some details are not available because the tender process is still ongoing. The bid process for the design and engineering is due to close December 8.
Kearney explained that many of the SLPC facilities date to the 1950s and 1960s and "are operating with their original infrastructure which is beyond its useful life, and is in need of replacement."
While the campgrounds and beaches have been maintained, she said the facilities need major infrastructure replacements. The bid package, obtained through Ontario's online procurement website, points to several of the infrastructure upgrades required including electrical systems, water and wastewater systems, park amenities, shoreline restoration, and overall layout of the 301 site campground.
According to the SLPC, two of the four septic systems at Riverside-Cedar have failed, requiring regular pump-outs for the washrooms. Three of the washroom buildings and one shower building are original and need replacing, and the electrical system for serviced campsites is inadequate for camping and RV users.
"The sites barely draw 10 amps and no longer service the basic needs of the customers resulting in tripped breakers and disgruntled customers," the SLPC said in the bid documents.
The SLPC is looking at connecting the campground to existing municipal water and sewer systems operated by the Municipality of South Dundas. That connection, if agreed to, would need water services extended about four kilometres east from the Evonik Oil Additives plant. An even longer extension of over five kilometres would be needed for sewer services.
South Dundas CAO Shannon Geraghty confirmed that "very preliminary" talks have taken place between the municipality and SLPC.
Among the planned upgrades the SLPC has on its wish list are a complete redesign of the campsite layout, upgrading drive-thru sites for larger campers and RVs, more cabins or similar structures, a new recreation hub with possible splash pad, play structures, a basketball court and a soccer/football field. Citing shoreline erosion, the SLPC is also going to restore the beach area for use at the campground, and renovate the boat launch on site.
The SLPC bid documents call for a redesign of the layout of the existing campground to "maximize the available space." It also plans to expand both east and west of its existing camping footprint, including adding a multi-use trail to Crysler Park to the east, and to the fish spawning habitat at the foot of County Roads 2 and 8 west of the campground.
When asked if the shoreline restoration or expansion of the camping areas would result in any loss in tree cover, Kearney was unable to respond.
While the SLPC is contracting out the redesign of Riverside-Cedar, there is no intention to outsource future operations of the campground.
"This request for bids and SLPC’s process of upgrading parks is about revitalizing infrastructure that is in need of replacement," Kearney said. "It is not about the operation of the park. There has been no consideration of having a third party operator for this site."
According to the bid documents, the new design for the Riverside-Cedar campground will be completed by the end of September 2022. No timeline for construction, nor any budget amount, was given by the SLPC.
Ontario's Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism, and Culture Industries announced November 22 more than $5 million in capital projects funding for the SLPC. This included $3.1 million to renovate the SLPC's Brown's Bay Beach west of Brockville. Some of the remaining $1.7 million will be used in 2022 to complete maintenance dredging of the main channel at Crysler Park Marina, and electrical service repairs at Upper Canada Village.
Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Morrisburg Leader