An empty gravel parking lot that has stood empty off of Highway 99 since the 2010 Olympics could soon be the site of a new RV park, but the designers behind the project don't want people to be put off by the idea.
"When you talk about it being an RV park, a lot of people come to it with a certain preconception about what that is or isn't," said Calum Srigley, one of the designers working on the project with the Garibaldi Group (not to be confused with Garibaldi At Squamish).
Positioned near the entrance to the Callaghan Valley, the proposed campground, called The Garibaldi Outpost, would not only serve as a year-round spot for campers, but would also host its own activities.
The current version of the project pitches a mountain bike skills area, outdoor exercise circuit, trails, and an outdoor climbing wall. A pond they hope to build could transform into a winter skating rink. Dogs have their own secure park and a washing station. Amenities include a small store to get coffee and necessities.
Srigley said they hope the Outpost will serve as a hub not only for campers but people dropping in on their way to or from Callaghan.
"There aren't currently a lot of places — or any places — for someone in a motorhome to stop and stay and recreate in Whistler," Srigley said. "Families and dogs aren't always welcome in Whistler without a big price. It kind of comes down to affordability."
He and fellow designer Norbert Jakubke said their research has shown the demographic of RV users has shifted to younger people, including millennials and families who want to take advantage of recreational opportunities in an affordable way.
The Callaghan Olympic parking lot was originally cleared to shuttle people to watch the 2010 Olympic games hosted in Whistler.
"Currently, there doesn't seem to be any kind of vision for this area, and this land is languishing," Srigley said. "There are environmental consequences because it's not being cared for, the groundwater isn't being managed properly... Some form of development like this would ensure that the land was cared for and was kept in good condition for whatever future use might happen."
Because there wouldn't be much infrastructure and the few buildings could easily be moved or disassembled, the designers said Outpost could be a transitional use for the space.
"It could make good use of an underused site and you're not doing anything that can't be taken away if it has to in a few years time," he said. "It can be implemented quickly and it can serve a need that has been identified for not only RV parking but for affordable short-term housing."
With one or two permanent structures, there would be 36 spots for tents, 26 for trailers and six for RVs or motorhomes. A full-time manager would live on-site.
One area of the park also reveals a view of Black Tusk. The Outpost itself will, for the most part, not be visible from the highway, with the exception of its entrance.
"It's hard to imagine sometimes when you're looking at a 16-acre gravel pit, this could be really quite sweet. That's the intention," Jakubke said.
First, the land will need to be rezoned by the Resort Municipality of Whistler. Srigley said the park could be open next year.
"If they get approval in June, they could conceivably have this place open in a year. The following June," Jakubke said.
They're asking for feedback from the public at garibaldioutpost.com.