Numbers climbing
Fort Simpson sees increases in over-night stays

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

FORT SIMPSON (Oct 01/99) - More people than last year settled down in their RVs or pitched a tent for the night at the Fort Simpson camp grounds.

There were 275 over-night stays in Fort Simpson this past summer, up substantially from 180 last year, according to Sean Whelly, the village's business development officer. Part of the increase is due to a promotion that allowed campers to spend a second night free, he noted. Fifty-nine campers took advantage of that offer.

"When people were invited to stay for a second night free, I was surprised by just how many said, 'Yeah, sure.'"

As for other possible reasons for the jump in numbers, Whelly cited greater advertising by the village (which highlighted the availability of showers at the camp grounds) and promotion through the village's Web site.

The increase comes as welcomed news as the community had been in a slide for a few years, attracting a peak of 300 seven years ago, then bottoming out at 160 in 1997, according to Whelly.

Overall, Whelly said he felt there was a greater volume of road traffic through Fort Simpson over the summer.

"I was seeing a lot more licence plates from places like Alaska and California than I had the previous two years, for sure," he said.

In Fort Providence, the official numbers weren't available, but hamlet mayor Michael McLeod said he's aware that they had increased over last year.

"I think the quality of the road and all the diamond publicity (in the North) are factors," he suggested.

In Fort Liard, the number of campers at the Hay Lake camp ground isn't monitored because there's no charge for an overnight stay, according to John McKee, senior administrative officer for the hamlet.

The data on the number of campers at the territorial camp sites such as Blackstone and Sambaa Deh are still being processed, according to an RWED official in Yellowknife. It should be available within a couple of weeks.