The B.C. government is stepping up to help eligible outdoor adventure businesses, fishing and hunting lodges, guest ranches, ecotourism lodges, seasonal campgrounds and other commercial recreation operators during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Holders of Land Act tenures and Park Act permits that are commercial recreation operators may qualify to have the annual base rent they pay to the government waived for one year. About $1.36 million has been earmarked for rent forgiveness, which benefits 592 Land Act tenure holders and 443 Park Act permit holders.
“We want to help people who own or run outdoor recreation companies, because they are important to rural economies and they’ve been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “By offering rent relief, we hope that they can continue to contribute to the well-being of remote communities throughout British Columbia.”
Many commercial recreation operators in backcountry areas of Crown land have continued to be significantly impacted by travel restrictions and other factors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“B.C.’s world-renowned and much-valued parks system is important to the economic health of rural and remote communities, providing opportunities for tourism and commercial recreation activities, in addition to increasingly welcome outdoor recreation for British Columbians and visitors,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “The pandemic-related travel restrictions have severely impacted many commercial park operators who have been asking for relief. By forgiving rents, we are responding to the needs of these businesses that continue to offer safe and healthy outdoor experiences in our provincial parks during these challenging times.”
How it works:
- This rent forgiveness is aimed at commercial recreation operators whose primary purpose is outdoor recreation activities, with ancillary uses related to transportation, accommodation or food and beverage.
- Eligible holders of commercial recreation tenures and park-use permits (under the Land Act and Park Act) will have one year of annual base rent (owed to the provincial government) waived for invoice due dates between May 1, 2020, and April 30, 2021.
- Tenure and permit holders who are eligible for rent forgiveness will receive a notification letter.
- Tenure holders and permit holders who pay Land Act or Park Act “client days” rent, with invoice dates between May 2020 and April 2021, will receive rent forgiveness for their base rent (e.g., $500 for a licence of occupation), but not for client day rent. (Note: “client day” rent typically is $1 to $6 for each client participating in a guided adventure activity within a 24-hour period.)
- Although rent forgiveness will not apply to client day rent for guiding, an interest-free payment plan agreement is available to tenure holders for at least six months to help address the financial impacts of the pandemic. Tenure holders are encouraged to contact staff in their local ministry lands office for more information.
- Rent forgiveness does not apply to rent that is based on revenue sharing, such as:
- client days for guiding (tenures under Part B of the Adventure Tourism Policy)
- all-season/ski resorts (under the All-Season Resort Policy or the BC Parks Ski Resort Policy)
“B.C.’s tourism industry is among our province’s biggest economic drivers and has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. We are helping all aspects of this important industry respond, recover and work towards resiliency following COVID-19,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. “This initiative will provide financial relief to eligible tenure and permit holders adversely affected by the pandemic.”
The B.C. government will continue to monitor the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the commercial recreation sector over the coming months.
“With the announcement of a one-year rent forgiveness package for eligible commercial recreation businesses, the Adventure Tourism Coalition would like to thank the B.C. government for its recognition of the important role that our industry plays in the socio-economic well-being of British Columbia, particularly in our rural areas,” said Brad Harrison, chair of the Adventure Tourism Coalition. “The COVID-19 crisis has hit our sector extremely hard. We look forward to continued government collaboration and support to ensure adventure tourism’s future in British Columbia.”
Policy for park-use permits: https://portal.nrs.gov.bc.ca/web/client/-/commercial-recreation-parks-use-permit
B.C. government website with additional information to help businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment-business/business/small-business/resources/covid-19-supports