Despite the pandemic, the 2020 camping season last year turned out to be quite good, with numbers showing more out-of-town visitors than it has in a long time. Both Glen and Wendy Larsen, operators for the campgrounds, wasted no time last season and began making changes. Improvements were made to the sites regarding clearing the deadfall throughout the campgrounds, and firewood shelters were added to the seasonal sites. Those who love to get on the water, canoes and paddleboats were also available for rent, which is something new that was offered at both lakes. The Larsen’s have grand visions for the campgrounds moving forward. So far, the duo has been on track with enhancements that, in turn, will bring out more visitors, whether camping or staying for the day.
The latest change approved by Council is to create seasonal sites on the lakefront at Iosegun Lake. For-Site Environmental proposes converting the current day-use area beside the beach into four seasonal sites. These additional campsites will not impact the group use area, nor will it affect the public's picnic ability for the day. The day-use area will be moved from its current location by the tree line to the beach. A new firepit would also be included to make up for the one lost when the new campsites are constructed.
Implementing the new changes will create four ideal locations for camping for those who like to be near the water and the trees. While also providing added security benefits to the beach area. A lot of vandalism to park property occurred in these areas last season, so adding in the camping sites acts as a deterrent for those who feel the need to cause property damage to the public areas. It’s a definite win-win for everyone.
Another change at Iosegun Lake is the upgrade of the highly used bridge that joins the Spruce Loop to the beach. The stringers supporting the bridge are rotten, which poses a severe safety hazard for those walking on it. The plans this spring will include having the bridge replaced at the cost of $17,000, which would come out of the town's Parks and Campground Reserve. In addition to that would be replacing three outhouses, two at Iosegun and one at Smoke Lake, for an additional cost of $11,000. The total upset costs for all the enhancements would be in the neighbourhood of $30,000. In previous years, not many changes or repairs to the campgrounds were done, but that has now turned around as little by little, improvements are being done, beautifying the area and making it more enjoyable to camp and visit.
Vicki Winger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press