A woman has lost a long court battle with a Surrey campsite and RV park that rested on whether she was a tenant or a camper.
According to a judgement by B.C. Supreme Court Justice John Gibb-Carsley, Valerie Ball moved her fifth-wheel trailer to Hazelmere RV Park and Campground in 2015 and occupied several sites before moving to Site 35 in September 2019, where she remains.
The RV park, owned by Bedwell Bay Construction, has 200 sites and operates common areas, including a pool. It offers daily, weekly, monthly and long-term rates, and some RVs on the site have small decks attached and appear permanent.
Visitors also pay a variable resort fee that ranges from $15 to $40 a month.
The court heard that in May 2021, Ball refused to pay the resort fee because she believed it was a “disguised rent increase during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The next month, Bedwell gave her 48 hours to vacate the site, which she refused to do.
The case was referred to the B.C. Residential Tenancy Branch, with Ball claiming her rental of Site 35 was a tenancy, while Bedwell argued it amounted only to a licence to occupy the space and was not within the branch’s jurisdiction.
In November 2021, the branch determined Ball’s occupancy was a tenancy and the case could proceed on those grounds. Bedwell sought a judicial review of the decision, claiming it was procedurally unfair.
In April 2022, Supreme Court of B.C. Justice Christopher Giaschi ruled in favour of Bedwell and the case was referred back to the branch to reassess.
In September 2022, a branch arbitrator determined in a 14-page ruling that Ball was not a tenant, therefore the branch had no jurisdiction to hear her claim. Bedwell again requested that she vacate the campground, at which point Ball said she would be appealing the decision.
This appeal was the most recent Supreme Court ruling that went against Ball.
“I understand that this result may be difficult for Ms. Ball to accept,” Gibb-Carsley wrote.
“It will have a significant impact on her life. I empathize with her situation. However, I have not found any error in the (branch) decision or any issue of procedural fairness that warrants granting Ms. Ball’s petition for judicial review, and remitting the matter to the RTB.
“Having dismissed the judicial review petition, I see no justification for Ms. Ball to remain at the campground given Bedwell Bay’s intentions to regain possession of Site 35.
“I also note, although Ms. Ball may disagree, that Bedwell Bay appears to have taken reasonable steps to accommodate her during the past months, while these proceedings have unfolded.”