Exclusive: Canadian RV Groups Strengthen Push for Dealer, Campsite Support

Canadian RV dealers hope to secure some financial relief and additional support from their government as Canada’s response to the coronavirus shutdown evolves.While many dealerships were deemed essential businesses early on, they now face new problems along the lines of inventory and cash flow. Eleonore Hamm, RV Dealers Association of Canada President, said a growing number of local RV dealers may be strapped for cash as they return to normal operations.

Seasonal businesses such as RV dealerships and campgrounds that rely on a summer boom may be dealing with new issues not present at the start of the coronavirus crisis.

“We’ve complimented our government on its efforts, but as these programs come out very quickly, we’ve been able to identify some gaps, like many industries have, and said ‘OK this is great, but it doesn’t address all the needs,” Hamm said. “For example, many dealers have a bulk of their inventory now sitting there.”

Hamm and RVDA of Canada sent a letter to Minister of Finance Bill Morneau on May 5, requesting additional support for the consumer-facing side of the Canadian RV industry.

“We recommend a strong and robust recovery package to jumpstart the RV and camping industry through incentive programs to encourage RV purchase and investment in camping infrastructure,” she wrote.

In order to stimulate a strong reemergence for the Canadian RV industry, Hamm said consumers will need to be motivated to buy and actually use RVs. Campgrounds and dealers who may have just been gearing up for the summer season could be in danger of not receiving proportional support, she wrote.

RVDA of Canada is part of a coalition working to lobby the Canadian government in support of RV parks, dealers and manufacturers nationwide. Hamm said the Canadian Outdoor Recreation Roundtable includes a number of groups, including the Canadian Recreational Vehicle Association, Canadian Camping and RV Council, National Marine Manufacturers Association and more.

“We all have dealers that have inventory, and we all have the same issues, so we decided to join together,” Hamm said. “Our voice will be stronger as a group, to ask if we can get some relief so far as dealer cash flow.”

Canadian Recreational Vehicle President Shane Devenish said he’s encouraged by recent joint efforts on behalf of the Canadian RV lifestyle.

“We try to join with other associations who are likeminded to put on more pressure, and we’ve seen the government come up with some amendments and some programs, but so far there’s very little for campgrounds at this point,” Devenish said.

He said, however, that the campground industry may be better off financially than initially expected months ago. As RV parks begin to reopen, Devenish said the CRVA will monitor consumer patterns to determine future support.

“The purpose of what we need is kind of changing, and time is still a little bit on our side,” he said.

In a May letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the CRVA joined the roundtable group in calling for dealer cash flow support and a potential retail tax holiday. Click here to read that full letter.

“Vehicle dealer supply chains are very long and complex,” the letter reads. “Dealers must order product many months in advance to ensure product availability in key selling periods.”

The group of Canadian RV advocates called for Trudeau to support two items:

  • “Support for dealer cash flow is necessary to protect the retail network. We are proposing a simple formula where dealers could use historic data to claim as relief the additional year-over-year interest expense paid.”
  • “As well, to kick start consumer confidence in order to get product moving through all channels of vehicle dealerships. We are proposing a one-time retail tax holiday for consumers of any of these vehicles.”

Devenish said some of the more successful new policy proposals are based on laying out clear public safety recommendations for parks.

“As far as our provincial lobbying goes, we’ve been successful in a lot of the provinces with those lobbying efforts to just provide safety guidelines that would address the health department’s and other social distancing concerns,” Devenish said.

Victoria Day typically signals the start of summer each year in Canada. Set for May 18 this year, Devenish said many families and solo adventurers were looking forward to setting out in the RVs for the first time of the year.

“I think Canadians are disappointed they can’t get out in their RV and go camping on May 2-4, but I think they understand,” Devenish said.