Court Nixes Ont. Campground Tax Rebate
A recent Ontario Appeal Court decision means private campground operators with trailer sites won’t be getting an estimated $50 million in property tax rebates they were hoping for if the decision had gone the other way according to the Owen Sound Times, Owen Sound, Ontario.
Carson’s Camp in Sauble Beach and the Ontario Private Campground Association (OPAC) led the legal challenge to a provincial decision 20 years ago to allow municipalities to tax some trailer sites as well as the campground property itself.
In 2005 the Ontario Superior Court found in favor of OPAC and Carson’s Camp, but the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) and the town of South Bruce Peninsula appealed that decision.
Beth Potter, OPAC executive director, said in an interview the organization is “obviously disappointed” by the appeal court decision.
“We were hoping the original decision would be upheld . . . The feeling at the time when we won the 2006 decisions was the campground operators would receive a rebate of about $50 million in taxes across the province,” she said.
Potter said OPAC’s executive and Carson’s Camp owners would be meeting to consider their options over the next few days. They could include appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada or accepting the Ontario Appeal Court decision. It could also mean activating the hundreds of appeals to the Ontario Assessment Review Board that have been on hold pending the outcome of the court case. She said there is a “huge backlog” of such appeals.
Carson’s Camp owner John Raeburn could not be reached for comment.
The issue of assessment of trailers in private campgrounds has a long history, much of it focused on Sauble Beach which has several large campgrounds with hundreds of trailer sites.
Municipalities, including the former Amabel Township where Sauble is located, complained trailers often parked permanently on landscaped sites in private campgrounds were virtual cottages.
Owners weren’t paying their fair share of municipal taxes to maintain local services, Amabel Township council argued at the time. Amabel is now part of South Bruce Peninsula.
In the mid 1980s the Ontario Revenue Ministry said such trailer sites could be assessed for property taxation. In 1987, the Ontario Superior Court found in favor of the ministry. OPAC appealed that decision, but it was dropped in 1990 because the two sides were trying to find an alternative “agreeable resolution,” according to a news release issued Tuesday (Jan. 15) by South Bruce Peninsula. A moratorium went into effect, but it affected new trailer sites only. Assessments continued on the older sites. Then, in 2002, MPAC advised OPAC new sites were also going to be assessed. That led to a new court challenge by OPAC and Carson’s Camp Ltd.