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Old 12-05-2007, 03:38 AM   #1
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Default B.C. rapidly losing RV parks, industry warns

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http://www.canada.com/vancouversun

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Quote:
B.C. rapidly losing RV parks, industry warns
Owners cash in on high land values

Brian Morton
Vancouver Sun


Friday, November 23, 2007


B.C. is losing thousands of campsites for recreational vehicles as owners sell off prime recreation properties to take advantage of spiralling land values.

That's the word from Chris Bower, general manager of Nk'Mip Campground and RV Park, Osoyoos and president of the B.C. Lodging and Campgrounds Association [BCLCA], who said in an interview Thursday that 74 parks representing 4,687 campsites have closed or changed use in the past three years.

"We've lost 10 per cent," said Bower.

"As an example, in Osoyoos we used to have 1,200 campsites. Now we've got 640. And this is all over B.C., especially in the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan."

The situation has prompted Tourism Minister Stan Hagen to form a joint industry-government working group to investigate the matter. It's expected that next month Hagen will receive several recommendations from the group on how to address the situation, including making Crown land available for RV parks.

Hagen said in a written response to The Vancouver Sun Thursday that the working group includes five representatives from the tourism business sector plus representatives from the departments overseeing tourism, small business, finance, land management, parks and the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

Hagen said that recommendations are expected to be delivered to him by the end of 2007.

He also said the working group is looking at all factors that affect the viability of current RV park operations and the opportunities for development on both Crown and private land.

"Development opportunities by first nations are one key focus of the group," he added. "Several aboriginal groups have indicated an interest in developing their lands similar to what has been done by the Osoyoos Band at Nk'Mip Campground and RV Resort."

Bower said a lot of RV customers are now having problems finding a campsite and that he's worried they may just avoid B.C. in the future. "Our RV park numbers are way up," Bower said of his campground in Osoyoos. "But that's not good for the long term. You need enough competition within the industry to make it viable.

"A lot of this is because of the value of the land. They [campsite owners] have an opportunity to make $1 million to $2 million up front, rather than work for 10 to 15 years for it."

He said the Insurance Corp. of B.C. indicated that there are 120,000 RVs registered in B.C. and the number will likely grow to 156,000 by 2015.

Bower also said that a decision to sell or change the use of an RV park is partly made because of property taxes outstripping the ability of campsite rate increases to meet revenue needs.

As well, he said, developers are increasingly targeting campgrounds in prime locations -- especially waterfront properties -- to build condos for an aging population.

BCLCA executive director Joss Penny said in an interview that RV parks, which are mainly seasonal operations, took in about $60 million in gross revenues between April and October 2006.

"We estimate that we've lost about $6 million in revenue [because of campsite closures]."

bmorton@png.canwest.com
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Old 12-05-2007, 11:25 PM   #2
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I think that's happening all over. RV parks are notoriously expensive to develop and maintain as well.
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