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Slow camping start but Bay St. George parks expecting to pick up soon

The O’Neill family of Stephenville pose for a photo in front of their trailer while camping at Zenzville Park in Kippens on Friday at noon hour, including from left: Maya, Matthew, Debbie and Paul.
The O’Neill family of Stephenville pose for a photo in front of their trailer while camping at Zenzville Park in Kippens on Friday at noon hour, including from left: Maya, Matthew, Debbie and Paul. - Frank Gale

Despite a slow start to the season at several parks in the Bay St. George area, operators are still hoping for a good season with the weather finally starting to warm up.

Michael Zenz, park manager of Zenzville Campground in Kippens, said it’s been a little slow with the tourists so far due to the weather being chilly. He said some of the locals don’t want to camp until it warms up a little.

“I’m hoping it’s going to pick up now that the temperatures seem to be rising a little,” he said while working on cleaning out the large pool at the campground park on Friday.

The park has 140 sites and 95 of them are rented out on a seasonal basis, so there are 45 available for weekly or daily rentals. There are also six cabins that rent well during the summer months.

Zenz said he has lost some seasonal campers to Harmon Seaside Park, which just recently opened, but believes if the weather is nice this summer Zenzville will still have a good season with visitations.

Sian French, director of the Parks Division with Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation, said the opening of Harmon Seaside in Stephenville doesn’t seem to have made an impact on Barachois Pond Provincial Park’s seasonal numbers.

She said this year they made 45 sites available to seasonal campers and already the park has sold 33 of those, up from 29 sold last year.

As the largest provincial park in Western Newfoundland, Barachois has 150 campsites, so there are 105 available for monthly or short stay. During the 2017 season, 89 per cent of the users were from Newfoundland and Labrador, eight percent from across Mainland Canada, two per cent from the United States and one per cent international.

French said it’s been a slow June in parks right across the province due to the poor weather.

So far this year, Barachois has 315 reservations ranging from season, weekend to weeklong. That’s expected to increase with school closings and holiday weekends coming up.

During July and August last year the weekend occupancy at Barachois was 85 per cent and French said there is no reason to think it would change, unless we have terrible weather during the summer. The visitors were comprised of 60 per cent adults, 15 per cent children and 25 per cent seniors in 2017.

Meanwhile, the newest park in the system, Harmon Seaside Park in Stephenville, currently has 96 fully serviced seasonal lots and it is at capacity.

Diane Boyd said they currently have 12 short term sites developed for rent with water and electrical and they also have some un-serviced lots available for tenting.

She said the majority of seasonal campers are from the Bay St. George area; however, they do have some from Corner Brook, Deer Lake, and other communities in Western Newfoundland.

Boyd said their future plans will be based on demand and as they are obviously already at capacity, future phases will be discussed this year.

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