Big Fish Bay resort forging ahead with expansion plans

More sites for sure, and the marina……?

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Alberta’s fastest-growing campground (not scientifically verified) is adding at least 130 new sites this summer. And it’s not stopping there.

“We’re working on another hundred,” says Big Fish Bay owner Willie Driedger. “If we get everything done, it’ll be 450.”

The eventual goal is 656 sites at the RV park and campground on Lesser Slave Lake, next to Slave Lake. That’s a far cry from what the place used to be, and we haven’t even mentioned the cabins and other amenities Driedger has added in the past two or three years.

That’s an impressive rate of growth, but the biggest, most ambitious prize of all is a marina, for boat access to the lake. It has always been in Driedger’s vision for the place, but acknowledged as very difficult to get permission to do and very expensive otherwise.

“Close to $19 million,” he says. “How do you recoup that from $10 for launching your boat?”

As a business proposition it might not make a lot of sense. But on the other hand….

“We (meaning the east end of the lake generally) need something bad,” Driedger says. “It’s going to be not just for the campers. It’s for the whole community.”

Driedger puts it in perspective. With the town relocating its water intake from the river to Widewater, keeping the river dredged out won’t be the priority it once was. So what’s going to happen to boat access to the lake via the river when it silts up? Is the town going to spend hundreds of thousands to get it dredged? He doesn’t think so.

The solution might be a marina over Big Fish Bay way.

“We’re hoping we can get some grants,” he says.

As noted, there are a lot of hurdles. Not only provincial, but federal permission must be obtained. Impact on the lake must be studied. Construction would have to be designed to limit negative impact and the resulting channel would have to be designed so as to avoid siltation as much as possible.

“We want to make sure it’s done proper,” says Driedger.

The latest map for Big Fish Bay, with new sites in orange.

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