In preparation for its upcoming subdivision application, KUC wanted to ensure that North Shuswap residents had accurate information about the application and its purpose. In addition to meeting with the board of St. David’s by the Lake in Celista, we prepared an article for their local monthly paper.
Kamloops United Church has applied to the CSRD for a permit to subdivide a portion of the land at Camp Grafton. It is important that folks have the opportunity to be informed about the church’s plans for the land.
In 1953, Dr. Grafton made a gift of $2,000.00 to Kamloops United Church. The gift came without any strings or conditions attached – however, it did provide the church with enough money to purchase the 45.8 acre property at Magna Bay and establish a church camp. In honour of Dr. Grafton’s gift, the camp was named Camp Grafton.
Since that time, volunteers have been busy on the site – buildings were erected, docks built and children welcomed for many years of camp activities. The church made a conscious decision to keep the camp rustic and simple – a true retreat from city life for most children.
By the late 1990s, the church congregation was unable to sustain the level of volunteers needed to keep the camp safe and operational. Camp Grafton was shut down for 2 years until the Camp Grafton Society was formed and through it, a new group of volunteers took over the management of the camp. Since 2000, the church has made Camp Grafton available to the Camp Grafton Society for $1 a year. Camp Grafton Society has continued to offer hundreds of children a wonderful camp experience throughout the past 12 years.
In 2007, the church began a redevelopment project on its property in downtown Kamloops. The aging facilities needed to be replaced and the church looked for ways to maximize the possible use of the Kamloops property in carrying out our Ministry. After several years of research and congregational consultation, it was decided that the church would incorporate a housing project in the redevelopment. The housing is planned to enable folks who have been unable to purchase their own home to get a helping hand so that more folks can enjoy the security and benefit of home ownership. The project was designed to occur in two phases: phase 1 would see the current Sanctuary site renovated to build a new community kitchen and hall and then, phase 2 would begin with the construction of the housing.
The church now has completed phase 1 and has just begun the sales initiative for the housing. Once the homes have been “pre-sold”, construction will begin on phase 2. To date, congregation members have personally contributed almost $900,000 to help meet the overall phased construction costs.
The financial plan for the redevelopment includes subdividing off a small portion of the east end of Camp Grafton and selling it to help raise money for the affordable housing project. The current application would see 7.5 acres subdivided off – leaving approximately 38 acres available for the camp. Throughout this process, the congregation has kept Camp Grafton Society fully informed and continues to work with the Society to minimize any impact of the proposed sale.
Good stewardship is a very personal matter: for some it may mean leaving the property intact as our green space continues to erode; for others, it would mean using all our resources to benefit the largest number of people. Each position is deserving of respect and neither is “wrong” – the challenge is finding the correct balance.
Kamloops United Church believes that they have found the correct balance. Camp Grafton will still have the use of 38 acres on which to provide a fantastic camping experience and the monies from the sale of a small portion of the camp will help provide much needed affordable housing and support for the many community programs that the church offers.
Over the past 60 years, the church has been a good neighbour in the North Shuswap and the fortunate recipient of much community support. We hope that the community will recognize that this decision was not made lightly or easily and that community support will continue during this time of change and throughout the application process.
Submitted by: Jennifer Milobar Keim, Co-Chair, Kamloops United Church Redevelopment