Court Ruling Dire for Ontario Tourism
A trailer park owner says an Ontario Court of Appeal ruling will hurt tourism in the province.
The Court of Appeal ruled Jan. 14 that trailers in campgrounds are property tax assessable in the name of the owner of the underlying land — the campground owner, according to the Peterborough (Ont.) Examiner.
“It will affect tourism for all of Ontario,” Lovesick Lake Park owner and manager Scott Purves said. “The trailer park industry is a relatively inexpensive way for people to get a quality summer vacation and this tax will make a trailer site more expensive.
The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, the Attorney General of Ontario and several municipalities had appealed a Superior Court of Justice of Ontario ruling in October 2006 that trailers should not be assessed.
The Court of Appeal overturned the lower court decision. It decided the value of trailers can be included in the property owner’s current value assessment.
In the Assessment Act, the definition of “land” includes all structures on the land and the legislation does not require the owner of the land own the structure.
Lisa Gow of Carson’s Campground in Sauble Beach won the initial court case challenging the right of the town of South Bruce Peninsula to tax trailers.
Gow says there is no point in trying to take the case to the Supreme Court and has abandoned any effort to seek leave to appeal the lower court ruling.
In 2004, trailer parks were hit with property value assessment increases for 2003 based on the inclusion of the value of trailers. That increase was about $100 per unit at Lovesick Lake Park, Purves said.
Purves explained the cost increase had to be passed on to customers, which was a substantial amount considering people pay roughly $1,500 for a seasonal site at the park.
Lovesick Lake Park has about 150 developed sites.
Purves pointed out the provincial association for private campgrounds estimates there’s a turnover of about 20% at campgrounds each year. That makes it difficult to track down campground users for property taxes for the previous year, Purves said.
“It makes that collecting of the tax much more of a burden,” he said. “This is a transient business and people come and go.”