Tom Van Dusen
Nation Valley News
EMBRUN — A local entrepreneur has been given a clear path by United Counties of Prescott & Russell to instal overnight cabins in part of increasingly popular 18,000-acre Larose Forest.
David Ryan, who owns Xpertek Construction which specializes in emergency institutional restoration, made a pitch to counties council recently and was green-lighted for a six-cabin pilot project.
Designed to accommodate families of two adults and two children, Ryan said the buildings will be made of wood and will blend nicely in Larose’s largely man-made red pine forest. In fact, he hopes the structures will become almost invisible against the forest background.
During a recent meeting, council readily agreed to the two-year pilot largely because it has nothing to lose, said Pierre Leroux who, as mayor of Russell Township, sits on counties government. As a bonus, Leroux indicated, Ryan is a township resident and businessman.
Council heard from its forestry manager Louis Prevost that the project promoter will be responsible for financing, booking guests, and maintenance. Leroux compared the deal to other contracts let in the forest, such as for maple syrup production. Terms of the arrangement are still to be finalized.
Anticipating having the cabins in place Aug. 1, Ryan said they’ll be located in the western end of Larose close to Limoges where bike trails have been established; they won’t be clustered but spread out through the forest. He hopes to get some spillover from nearby Calypso Waterpark when operations resume there post COVID-19.
A mountain biker who can take it to the extreme, Ryan described Larose trails as family-friendly where kids and adults alike can enjoy themselves. He hopes his cabins will appeal to this segment as well as to hikers, snowshoers, cross-country skiers, and other outdoor enthusiasts plunging increasingly into the forest, particularly since C-19 erupted.
Ryan said he has a tremendous advantage in pursuing the project because Xpertek has an infrastructure in place which includes 30 skilled workers who’ve constructed larger school portables; the cabins will be built in-house and delivered to chosen locations in Larose. In addition to building them, Ryan has the capability to deliver and service the buildings.
They’ll be roughly 8x16x13 ft. high with slanted roof and upper bunk under the slant; they’ll feature windows, screened porch, with organic or incineration toilet, propane heater, and water… but not running water. Electricity isn’t part of the package and lighting will be battery-operated.
The cabins will be rented in advance Airbnb-style. Ryan is still working on details of the rental system as well as on a name for the new service and promotional activities leading up to the August launch.
While the concept isn’t new – similar cabins are in place in Gatineau Park and at some Parks Canada sites – it hasn’t been tried in Larose Forest. Ryan observed that, as the forest expands its profile and following, the number of potential cabin clients is increasing.
Ryan described the concept as a value-added way to offer accommodation while respecting the forest environment.