Fueled by rising real estate values, growing numbers of campgrounds and RV parks in British Columbia are selling their properties to real estate companies, which in turn are converting them into condos or other developments that can generate more revenue.
The trend follows a pattern surfacing in prime real estate areas along the U.S. coastline. But unlike Florida and other states where rising real estate prices are motivating operators to sell, some BC park owners are being forced to sell off their businesses because of spiraling property taxes.
According to statistics compiled by the British Columbia Lodging and Campgrounds Association (BCLCA) in Port Moody, B.C., property taxes have increased by an average of 54% during the past four years
“We’re starting to see a reduction in campgrounds,” said Joss Penny, BCLCA’s special projects manager, adding that British Columbia’s taxation practices are “one more factor that’s accelerating the move to take campgrounds out of the market.”
Penny said British Columbia’s taxation guidelines mandate that property taxes be assessed according to the highest and best use of each parcel of land. So even though many campgrounds are relatively undeveloped, park operators are being assessed as if their land holdings were currently being used for condominiums.
While BC’s current taxation guidelines have been in place since the 1990s, Penny explained, park operators are feeling considerable financial pain right now because of skyrocketing real estate values, particularly in rural areas of the province.
BCLCA is meeting with provincial officials, including Rick Thorpe, BC’s minister of small business and revenue, to try to secure some form of short-term tax relief for campground and RV park operators. The association is also hoping to encourage provincial authorities to set up a task force to study the issue and develop additional recommendations.