B.C. gov’t sells RV campsites for greater tax gain

If anyone is wondering why there are fewer camping and RV parks throughout B.C., they need look no further than the provincial government.

To the editor:

If anyone is wondering why there is a continuous loss of camping and RV parks throughout B.C., they need look no further than the provincial government and specifically BC Assessment.

The method of property assessment utilized by BC Assessment to determine the highest and best use of many recreational zoned properties throughout B.C. ensures that a seasonal campground/RV park cannot survive in the medium to long term.

A case in point is Camp Okanagan Resort, located in the Central Okanagan on the outskirts of Peachland and West Kelowna.

Camp Okanagan Resort is a new facility that opened in June 2010 with 21 full-service RV sites, 19 fully furnished upscale cottages, in-ground pool, laundry and washroom facilities located on a 10 acre, naturally landscaped parcel of land zoned C8–Wilderness Resort Commercial (Link to Camp Okanagan Resort: http://www.homeandweb.com/camp-okanagan.htm)

The property, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Regional District of the Central Okanagan (RDCO), was rezoned to Wilderness Resort (C8) from Rural Residential (RU2) in 2008. The change in zoning was supported by the surrounding municipalities of Peachland, Westbank and Kelowna as a means to address the ongoing loss of RV/campground facilities to redevelopment in the Central Okanagan.

The zoning, which sets restrictions on occupancy and use, are designed to ensure that the property will be used for short term tourist accommodation. The primary demand period for tourist accommodation in this area are the summer months. (Link to Zoning: http://www.regionaldistrict.com/departments/planning/planning_bylaw871.aspx)

BC Assessment is responsible for determining the market value and classification of properties throughout B.C., which subsequently determine individual property taxes. There are several valuation methods used in determining value including an income approach to value, as is generally used for revenue producing or commercially zoned properties.

In the case of Camp Okanagan Resort and many other campgrounds and RV parks, BC Assessment has determined that the highest and best use of the land is not as a seasonal tourist business, but to split the land and to sell each of the RV sites to an individual owner. The end result is a valuation that is significantly higher than would be the case for an income valuation for a seasonally operating RV park. The resulting valuation, in conjunction with the land’s commercial classification, results in annual property taxes that are the largest expense component of the business, and in the case of Camp Okanagan Resort, represent approximately 25 per cent of gross annual income.

The high level of property taxation is not sustainable for a seasonal campground business. The only option for an operator is to follow BC Assessments recommendation and sell individual sites. (Link to marketing of sites: http://paradiseville.ca/)

Tasha Noble, Peachland

Kelowna Capital News