Fort Saskatchewan council has taken the first step towards a possible expansion of the Fort Lions Campground.
Council unanimously passed first reading on Tuesday (Sept.25) of a bylaw that will redistrict the campground site and an adjacent parcel of land from a parks and recreation district to tourism and recreation. A campground is considered a discretionary use under current zoning -- the change would give the facility a permanent home and open up more space for future growth. A public hearing on the rezoning will take place October 23 ahead of final reading of the bylaw. 
Councillors instructed staff to prepare the bylaw amendment at a council meeting back in May after Lions representative Don Westman asked the city to consider letting the club expand the campround into Turner Park.
The Lions Club has been running the campground for the past six years of its three decades in the city. The club is looking to meet continued public demand by adding least 20 new sites to the facility, an expansion Westman said could bring in thousands of dollars in revenue that the club would put towards funding community groups.
“We believe that the far end of Turner Park is the perfect location for this campground and there is plenty of room there for expansion without interfering with anything,” Westman said in May. “The club already has the funds and volunteers in place to go ahead with adding the new sites.
The October public hearing will give residents a chance to share their thoughts on the rezoning before council makes any final decisions.
Fort Saskatchewan resident Doug Jones, who lives near the site, said in May that he was opposed to any development that could disrupt Turner Park and that he would continue to speak against any plans to expand the campground.
The campground issue has a long history in the city. In 2014, after a successful appeal by nearby residents, council rescinded a 2013 decision that approved expansion of the site.
Mayor Gale Katchur said she is aware of residents’ concerns but that the campground isn’t going away.
"It is a fixture at this point in time," she said. "It's been a campground for 30 years so I'd probably like to see it legitimized to be a campground."
Councillor Deanna Lennox said she supported passing first reading of the rezoning to kickstart the conversation about the campground.
"I do have some concerns but I can address those when the public hearing comes forward and see what happens," she added.
Councillor Gordon Harris pointed out that the rezoning would legitimize the existing campground.
“And I think it's about time,” he said. “It's been over 30 years and I think it's time to get going with it and to get the input from people pro and con. And I think that's what we will be able to do at the public hearing."

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