Concerned Kawkawa Lake residents recently met in council chambers for a delegation regarding a sharp rise in assessed land values in 2016. The rapid increase ranged from 100 per cent to 400 per cent.
“While we are aware that the District of Hope has no jurisdiction or role in determining assessed values, the resultant taxation falls clearly within its jurisdiction and control,” said a statement in a letter to the District from The Lakefront Property Owners of Kawkawa Lake.
Though the increase could potentially be viewed as a ‘one time’ event, the eventuality of another increase in the future is tangible according to concerns voiced by residents, including Michelle Richardson who spoke out on behalf of the group.
“As people come to Hope for more affordable housing and lifestyle, prices have and will continue to be driven up, and if the proposed Giant Nickel four season resort goes through, it will probably create a significant increase in property values,” she said.
Residents acknowledged that some increases in land values is the norm, but their concern was in the “magnitude and suddenness” of the rapid increases that could result in residents incurring significant financial hardship. Richardson argued the impact of the monumental increases and tax related burdens are severe and suggested that any solutions made, including bylaw changes, should be implemented on behalf of the entire community.
“Not only will increases impact current residents, but they also impact the level of attractiveness to new residents. Further, significant tax increases will make lakefront properties more difficult to sell if that ends up being the decision that is made.”
Several letters were presented on behalf of residents to council, stating reasons for District intervention.
“I see no reason why the District of Hope cannot lower the mill rate for the select few that have been targeted, or come up with another suitable alternative that would help minimize the financial burden,” said a letter written by Laurie Schiefermeier and Max Gracia of Lakeview Crescent. “If nothing is done to reduce the property taxes we will be forced to either defer our taxes (create more debt) or we will have to sell and move.”
Possible solutions were brought to the table including gradual ‘averaged’ land value increases to reduce the immediate and financial impact and burden of significant increases; capping the property tax paid by residents; and taxation based on lot size versus assessed value of property.
“We invite you to apply your knowledge, expertise, creativity and problem solving skills in this situation,” said a statement by property owners. “This is an opportunity for you to think outside of the box and lead in a direction that serves the residents of Hope in the long run.”
Council committed to speaking with the BC Assessment Authority on future initiatives to cap the increase in percentage. “We will also look at assessment increase averaging as a tool for the future —this would require consent from the Lieutenant Governor before it is enacted,” said Mayor Wilfried Vicktor of Hope.