The Northstar Group of Companies, who operate a number of tourism assets in Kimberley, was the preferred proponent to buy the campground, Mayor Don McCormick says.
“Staff set up criteria and scored each proponent,” McCormick said. “They had the highest score, and the best financial offer.”
The campground sold for $3 million.
McCormick says there was a lot of interest in the campground, bringing about half a dozen serious proponents.
“It’s a really well operated, profitable business,” he said.
“Critics of the sale used that as a reason the city should keep it. But a business is most valuable when it is at maximum profitability, and so it commanded the maximum price.”
The sale of the campground, and the possible pending sale of Bootleg Gap Golf Course, is the end of a process that began four years ago, he said.
“When we examined our infrastructure deficit four years ago, we knew it was in dire need of investment. Its renewal, without raising taxes, became a key priority.”
McCormick says that one method of raising funds for infrastructure renewal was the sale of non-core city assets, of which the campground and golf course, are two.
He says sale of raw land for residential and commercial lots raised $1 million over the past few years.
The money went into the Kimberley Reserve fund for infrastructure projects, as will the campground proceeds.
The $1 million has helped with projects such as the new Cenotaph, the Purcell soccer field washroom project, and Peak to Platzl trail connectivity.
The benefit of having the money in the Reserve Fund is not just that it can fund projects on its own, but it can help with leveraging grants from upper levels of government.
There are plenty of unfunded projects the money will go to as well, the Mayor said.
There is the UV treatment project. This is not related to the looming replacement of the waste water treatment plant. The UV project will add a second treatment to Kimberley’s water supply. This is required by Interior Health and currently the city is working with only one with permission from IH, on the understanding that a second treatment method will be added.
The roof at Centre 64 is another project, as are major upgrades to the Civic Centre.
“We have been trying to find money for these projects for several years,” he said. “The sale of the campground is another step.”
He assures Kimberley residents that public river access will be maintained.
“The City was getting about $120,000 per year from the campground. Now that it is sold, we will get taxes, utilities, interest on the money and a savings in management fees, which will offset that $120,000.
“And the asset is still in the community. It’s a win win for the community.”
As for the golf course sale, McComrick says that was delayed by the Coronavirus pandemic but there are negotiations ongoing.