Carolyn Gould Photo
Dan Brown and Patrick Pineo want to open Petrolia Discovery opened up to tourists including campers.
The pair came to Petrolia council Monday after reading in The Independent that the town wants to help turn the site around. Over the past few years tourist traffic has declined and problems with the on-site oil wells have lead to budget deficits.
Brown and Pineo say Petrolia Discovery is not just a great place to learn about the history of oil, it is also beautiful natural habitat for camping, bird watching and canoeing.
The pair wants to see the site open to campers, perhaps using caravans similar to the covered wagons seen on Gypsy Flats during the oil boom. Brown says they would have modern interiors and some could even be made into public restrooms.
“It’s not all that expensive and it could be a drawing card for the town,” says Brown.
Brown, a former volunteer with Discovery, took the idea to the foundation board and says “they laughed at me.”
But Brown is convinced the natural beauty and trail network could be a strong draw for people who want to visit the area and need a place to stay. “I have people say all the time ‘we’d love to be out here, but there is no place to stay.’”
“People are coming into town but they’re leaving…they bring their trailer down there – why not allow the people to come here and park?” says Pineo.
Brown says with a camping area for people to stay at, the town could attract other events, such as the national fiddle championships and remote control boat racing.
Mayor John McCharles welcomed the ideas saying it is good people are concerned enough about Petrolia Discovery to put an effort into reviving it. “Sometimes we wonder if here is an interest.”
While staff has been asked to report back on the idea, McCharles says there are a lot of bridges to cross before it could ever be reality. “It’s not up to us,” says McCharles. “Certainly there is an idea there.”