Rowan’s Ridge RV Resort Limited, owned by Mark and Marcia Strong, is challenging a campground service fee bylaw that was introduced by the Rural Municipality (RM) of McKillop, Canada on January 1 of this year.
The Strongs are also the owners of the campground and Mark is a council member in the RM.
The campground is one of two operating in the RM and the only one affected by the bylaw, which imposes a $100 per campsite annual infrastructure service fee.
Rowan’s Ridge claims that the fee is being used to “top up” their taxes and is requesting a Judicial review of the bylaw.
Local news reached out to Mark Strong, but the latter was said to have declined to comment on the matter yet stated that he would declare a conflict of interest and excuse himself from any discussion council has on this matter. The campground filed the request for the Judicial review on December 8, 2022.
According to the summary of material facts, the campground started operating in 2020 between May and September, with annual taxes of just over $12,300.
Of this, $8,147 goes into the RM’s general account to maintain and operate RM services and infrastructure such as the landfill, lagoon, police, fire and recreation services and roads.
The campground claims that the fee will increase their costs by an additional $6,850, and the RM can increase it at any time at their discretion.
Rowan’s Ridge also said that the RM requires the fees to be paid regardless if they use any of the services and there was no impact study or research done to determine the amount or formula to arrive at the amount.
The campground says the fee increase will be severely detrimental to their business because they will have to pass it on to their customers, potentially making it impossible for them to remain open. Other nearby campgrounds in other RMs do not require similar fees.
The matter has been adjourned to March 23, and the RM has yet to respond with filings to the court.
The RM said they are at the SARM convention and will provide a comment on Friday.
This dispute will have to be resolved in court, and it remains to be seen how it will affect the campground’s operations and the RM’s plans to fund its infrastructure services.
This news may be of interest to other campgrounds and RV resorts, especially those located in the same RM or in other RMs with similar fee structures.
It also highlights the potential impact of infrastructure service fees on small businesses, such as campgrounds, and the need for proper research and impact studies before imposing such fees.