By Marianne Curtis
The RM of Reynolds has decided to delay making a decision that could allow the establishment of a permanent year round bible camp near Hadashville.
At a recent condition use hearing George Hill, General Manager for the applicant told council that the group is looking to establish a permanent facility that they would eventually own.
“Facilities have always been rented or leased in order to provide a safe environment for children outside of the city,” stated Hill. After forty-three years, Living Bible Explorers would like opportunity to establish a permanent facility that they will eventually own, he added. During the summer, the camp is expected to have about one hundred people on site, half of which would be staff and councillors.
Walter Loewen, applicant and owner of the property, confirmed that the group plans to lease the land to the Living Bible Explorers for ten years, then, transfer the land to the organization.
Despite the glowing support towards the program, several Hadashville residents attended the hearing and voiced their concerns.
Local resident Maurice Picklyk raised concerns about the possibility of draining the surface water wells on the west side of Highway 11, if a lake is created. He was told that an engineer will be studying the water issue before a decision between creating a man-made lake or installing a pool is made.
Other residents raised concern about bringing children from Winnipeg into the area, even suggesting that the crime rate in Hadashville will increase. Hill assured the group that the camp would be for children 5-14 with no criminal involvement unlike a Teen Challenge site was established in the area in the past
“If a problem does arise, parents are contacted to pick up the child immediately,” he noted.
Loewen added that in the 35 years he has owned the 100 acre property it had been vandalized by local residents on a number of occasions but the culprits “eventually grew up and moved on”.
“Comparing five year old children with Teen Challenge is an unfair comparison,” added Irene Enns, a councillor for the camp.
Funded by a number of churches, corporations and foundations, the Living Bible Explorers camp has been in existence in the southeast region for over four decades – twelve of these were spent at St. Malo.
“We did not have to resources to purchase a permanent camp, only to rent or lease property,” Hill explained.
Hill assured council that if the facility is built, it would be a top quality with children present only during the summer weekdays. The rest of the year, the facility can be rented out to groups on weekends and during the off season which would bring increased business to the local store and gas stations.
After a lengthy discussion, the RM of Reynolds closed the hearing with plans to reschedule another meeting before rendering a final decision on the matter.