Saturday, 21 March 2015

Long-term Campsite Policy Change


We are sorry to announce that, effective immediately, we will no longer be assigning long-term campsites. The waiting list has been discontinued. Any long-term site that is relinquished will become a short-term campsite. All projects that contribute to making campsites more usable for long-term stays have been stopped. Members with an existing long-term agreement will still be allowed to sell their trailer with the site if the new site-holders qualify for membership. But any potential purchaser will be subject to increased scrutiny.

The reason for this is that an individual, with the assistance of a few members, has made long-term campsites unsustainable.

How we got here is astonishing and almost unbelievable:
  1. In the spring of 2013, Mr. X first came for a visit. Through the early summer of 2014, he made a few short stays. He seemed quiet and relatively well-behaved.
  2. In August of 2013 he applied for membership and asked for a long-term campsite. Because none were available, he asked to be placed on the waiting list and took an unserviced campsite. We confirmed that he had a permanent residence and he agreed, like everyone else,  to use his campsite only for recreational purposes.
  3. In the late summer and fall of 2013, we received a number of complaints about his behaviour. Through the winter of 2013-2014, it became obvious that he was using his RV as his permanent residence.
  4. In the spring of 2014, we informed Mr. X that we would not be renewing his campsite. He asked for a weeks to make alternate arrangements and we agreed.
  5. After seeing two promised departure dates pass, we served Mr. X with a no trespass notice. When he still refused to leave, we called the police to have him removed. When the police arrived, the claimed protection under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA).
  6. We were surprised given that we are very clear about the nature of Bare Oaks as a campground and that the RTA specifically excludes campgrounds. However, the police were unsure so they left it to us to clarify the situation with the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB).
  7. We filed with the LTB and received a hearing date four weeks later. We hired one of the two top RTA lawyers in Ontario to put together the argument.
  8. On the day of the hearing, we were surprised to see members Y and Z present with Mr. X. In fact, he did not speak. Member Y did all of the speaking for him and presented a rather misleading interpretation of the situation at Bare Oaks. Even more surprising, the adjudicator did not seem particularly interested in hearing our lawyer's arguments. She asked a lot of questions and issued a temporary order giving Mr. X full access to all facilities while she made her decision.
  9. Nearly 4 weeks later, she issued an order giving Mr. X the full protection of the RTA and separated his campsite from membership. (over which she admitted the RTA has no authority) So effectively, Mr. X had the use of his campsite but no other facility because we withdrew his membership privileges.
  10. Our lawyer was astounded and we immediately filed an appeal with the LTB because he saw so many errors in law. But in an even more bewildering decision, the LTB denied our opportunity to appeal. We then filed an appeal with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. But having already spent thousands of dollars in legal fees and with an estimate from our lawyer of $20,000 to $30,000 and no guarantee of winning, we decided that abandoning the appeal was the most fiscally prudent direction.
  11. We were hoping that Mr. X would leave as soon as he could afford it given that his RV is not very comfortable in the winter. Unfortunately, member Y provided him with a much more comfortable place to live over the winter.
What does protection of the RTA means to Mr. X? It means that he can only be evicted if he fails to pay his "rent" or if he violates the law while on the property. He can be as rude as he wants. He can make statements and suggestions to women that are completely inconsistent with naturist principles. He can even do illegal things as long as he doesn't get caught and convicted for them.

But it is important to understand that he is also limited to his campsite, the road leading to it, the use of washrooms/showers and the office for administrative purposes. The LTB has stated that they have no jurisdiction on membership so it has been withdrawn. He has no legal access to the pool, saunas, hot tub, beach, outback, clubhouse, restaurant, etc...

Additionally, the LTB decision only applies to Mr. X. It is not biding on the park in general. But nothing prevents others from making similar claims. Given the experience of other campgrounds, not everyone would win but it is possible that some could have successes similar to Mr. X. He is not the first person to turn a campsite into a residence protected by the RTA. It all depends on the LTB adjudicator you get and how they interpret the RTA definitions.

For the benefit and enjoyment of everyone at Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park, we need to be able to easily and quickly enforce our rules. We need to ensure that we only include those who support naturist values. We need to be able to swiftly exclude individuals who make others uncomfortable or take away from the enjoyment of the park by others.

We have not given up. We are working on a number of solutions to ensure that we can maintain our naturist environment. This first step is hopefully a temporary one while we work on other solutions that will take a bit more time.

We apologize for bothering everyone with this issue. Normally, we deal with problem individuals quietly and directly. Members and visitors come to Bare Oaks to get away from life's problems and live the naturist life. They don't want to worry about operational issues and we do our best to insulate them from problems. Unfortunately, the current situation requires us to act in a manner that will have a negative impact on many people. We are truly sorry that it has come to this.


Photo by Amy Messere used under Creative Commons License.