KNEEHILL COUNTY – The future of the Tolman Bridge west campground, which falls within Kneehill County’s municipal boundaries, was up for discussion during the regular Kneehill County council meeting on Tuesday, February 23.
More than 150 parks and campgrounds, including Tolman Bridge, were set to be fully or partially closed following an announcement by the provincial government in March 2020.
“Assuming operation of this (Tolman West) campground may be an opportunity to potentially expand the tourism portfolio in Kneehill County,” manager of Parks and Agricultural Services Shelby Sherwick said during the presentation.
Tolman Bridge consists of two campgrounds–one, on the east side of the river within the municipal boundaries of Starland County, and the other on the west side of the river within Kneehill County.
Both Starland County and Kneehill County previously expressed interest in operating the campgrounds within their respective boundaries, and a potential partnership was initially identified to operate the sites in conjunction.
Recent correspondence from the province indicates an agreement will only be made with one municipality.
Sherwick added if Kneehill County chose to operate the site, either on its own or in conjunction with Starland County, additional staff would be required. Based on anticipated revenue, it was recommended council withdraw interest in the west campground; Sherwick noted Starland County had expressed interest in operating both campgrounds, though permission would be required to operate the west campground within another municipality.
“I know there’s a lot of my interest in (Division 7) in terms of having that campground stay there and be operated,” said Councillor Kenneth King. “If, at some point in time, Starland County wishes not to operate, I would certainly like to see Kneehill County to potentially look at the possibility of operating.”
Councillor King moved to withdraw Kneehill County’s interest in assuming the Tolman West campground; the motion was carried unanimously.
Division 6 Councillor Wade Christie made a second motion to permit Starland County to operate the west campground, under the condition Kneehill County would be notified should they withdraw at any point. This motion was also carried unanimously.
By Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/The Drumheller Mail