No Appeal for Ontario Campground Verdict
Private campground owners in Grey Bruce, Ontario, and throughout the province will not be appealing an Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that seasonal trailers can be assessed for taxation purposes, according to Bayshore Broadcasting News Centre, Owen Sound.
Lisa Gow of Carson’s Campground in Sauble Beach had brought forward and won an initial lawsuit challenging the town of South Bruce Peninsula’s right to tax the trailers. Had that lower court ruling stood, that would have resulted in tax rebates totaling $50 million for private campground operators but the town appealed that decision and won.
Gow said their lawyers now have decided that there is no point in trying to take this issue to the Supreme Court of Canada and have abandoned any effort to appeal the lower court ruling.
She said they are disappointed that the legal fight to exempt the trailers has ended but now they will concentrate on having their assessment reviewed.
Gow said a vast number of appeals have been filed with the government during the five years this case has worked its way through the courts. The Appeal Panel now will have to deal with each of those appeals now that the court battle has ended.
The next move now will see the Ontario Private Campground Association (OPCA) lobby the provincial government for possible changes to the assessment of seasonal trailers.
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. OPCA appealed that decision, but it was dropped in 1990 because the two sides were trying to find an alternative agreeable resolution. A moratorium went into effect, but it affected new trailer sites only. Assessments continued on the older sites. Then, in 2002, the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. (MPAC) advised OPCA new sites were also going to be assessed. That led to a new court challenge by OPCA and Carson’s Camp.
In 2005 the Ontario Superior Court found in favor of OPCA and Carson’s Camp, but the MPAC and the town of South Bruce Peninsula appealed that decision.