Province May Lift Wal-Mart Camping Ban
Once forbidden territory as an overnight rest stop for visitors in Nova Scotia, the shopping mall parking lot may become a new overnight tourist destination in the province after the planned repeal of the province’s Tourist Accommodation Act next year, according to the Halifax Chronicle Herald.
That possibility should be enough to stir up campground operators in Nova Scotia, who have been pushing the provincial government to enforce existing rules that prohibit “indiscriminate camping.”
The Tourist Accommodation Act currently prohibits people from using, maintaining, operating or managing a campground for the use of any overnight parking of recreational vehicles unless they have a license. But the repeal of the accommodation act could remove the requirement that campers rest overnight only in registered campgrounds.
The campground industry refers to the practice of camping overnight in shopping mall parking lots or on the side of the road as “indiscriminate camping.”
In general, it appears the provincial government has decided that licensing all tourism operators in the province isn’t worth the political headache it causes each year.
Aside from complaints from campground owners, every year the government receives complaints from the tourism sector calling for a crackdown on unlicensed tourist accommodations in the province. That’s everything from people renting out their family cottage for some extra income to unlicensed bed and breakfast operators renting out an extra bedroom in their home.
The bill repealing the act isn’t expected to be discussed in the legislature until spring, but in the meantime tourism operators around the province are trying to figure out what it will mean to them.
The government says it will replace the licensing with a “new approach” to setting standards for tourist accommodation in the province with the help of a self-regulating tourism sector.
Repeal of the act could open up the tourism sector for those who might have been put off by the degree of government regulation of the industry. By trying to license and control almost all aspects of the tourism sector, the government created a near-impossible task for itself.
The high expectations among the industry participants who pay to have tourism licenses were the least of the problems it had to deal with. The government had people who innocently rent out their cottages wondering whether they were considered outlaws because they weren’t licensed. It also projected an image of Nova Scotia as a place that is overly regulated and not open to business.
When it made the announcement about the repeal of the Tourist Accommodations Act last week, the government was quick to point out that tourist accommodations will still be required to comply with federal, provincial and municipal laws governing safety and operation of a business. And companies that participate in provincial tourism marketing, such as listing their businesses in the annual Doers and Dreamers Guide, may be required to be assessed by a rating program such as Canada Select or the Canadian Automobile Association.