Give Coachella to Canada: U.S. journalist says Canadians buoyed Palm Springs-area economy

Many Canadians head to California's Coachella Valley during the winter months, and one American journalist is asking why not just give the region to Canada?

'A Canadian colony in California might not be paradise. But it sounds pretty good, eh?'

The Coachella Valley and Palm Springs are the popular destinations for Canadians looking to escape the cold. One U.S. journalist is saying give the area to the North. (Wikipedia/Patrick Pelster)

Many Canadians head to California's Coachella Valley during the winter months, and one American journalist is asking why not just give the region to Canada?

Joe Mathews is the editor for the news site Zocalo Public Square and he published a piece this week titled O Canada, Please Colonize the Coachella Valley, arguing that the economic support Canadians have brought to the region has helped the area thrive.

"It's been true for much of my life, we used to go out there in the 1980's and you'd meet some Canadians, but in this decade… I've noticed a Canada-friendly infrastructure developing in the Coachella Valley," Mathews said.

Limited time only

In his column, he highlights the economic support provided by the hordes of Canadian visitors who arrive each year in Southern California.

But there's a limit on how long they can stay.

Those who have homes in California, and only have Canadian citizenship, can only stay in the U.S. for 182 days. After that, they're at risk of being considered a U.S. "resident alien."

"The government at that point decides it can tax all of your global income, including whatever you're making for the parts of the year you're in Canada, so that's not good," he said.

Retiring Canadian baby boomers and real estate investors played a big part in keeping the Coachella Valley housing market afloat after it crashed in 2007. The global recession ensued.

Mathews said in his column that "in the first four years of this decade, Canadian buyers accounted for one-quarter of home purchases in the desert."

"So y'all essentially bailed us out," he told On The Coast host Gloria Macarenko.

For that reason, Mathews suggests making the Coachella Valley a Canadian colony as a way to keep the spending going for more months of the year.

"A Canadian colony in California might not be paradise. But it sounds pretty good, eh?" he writes in his piece.

Good guests

He says the  "Snowbirds from the True North" helped rescue several business that were on the brink of bankruptcy. The increased travel helped the area expand the Palm Springs International Airport, which now offers direct flights for a handful of major Canadian cities.

"The visits bring in a lot of money. You all are pretty well behaved, you don't tip great, but you spend a lot of money, you're paying taxes, not using a lot of government services, and usually avoiding our famously expensive health care system.

"You're nice people to have," even if we do get honked at for obeying the speed limit, he said.

With files from On The Coast