Ranch moves ahead with RV plans

An historic site isn’t giving up on a potentially new revenue source.

O’Keefe Ranch has developed a revised plan for an RV park to address concerns from the Agricultural Land Commission, which has previously opposed the concept.

“The completed RV park will have 100 sites and be fully serviced with water, sewer, WiFi and a washroom and laundry room,” said Larry Bell, ranch president, in a letter to Vernon council, which owns the ranch.

“The park is on a much smaller footprint and is located partially on the heritage footprint. We will be in touch with the ALC shortly.”

In 2008, the ALC denied an application for a 50-lot RV park on eight hectares, saying the proposed site — a hay field — is good farm land.

The ALC had suggested that an RV park be built closer to the existing buildings at the ranch.

Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe, who represents the city at the ranch board, is hopeful the current plan will proceed.

“The ranch has tried several times for a campground and has addressed the concerns,” she said.

“The goal is to have another source of cash flow for revenue.”

Ten unserviced RV sites will be opened this season as a pilot program.

In other news, the ranch will have the financial resources to get ready for a new season of visitors.

Vernon council has given half of its $150,000 2011 operating grant early to the historic site.

“They need that money to get ready for the season to start,” said Coun. Jack Gilroy, adding that the period leading up to the official opening can be extremely hectic.

“They have employees to hire and pay and they need to get various things set up.”

Coun. Patrick Nicol insists that providing half of the grant now ensures the operation can move ahead for the season.

“We have done this before and it’s a normal process,” he said.

Historic O’Keefe Ranch officially opens for business May 8 -— Mother’s Day.