The province’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commission has declined a request from a Cowichan Lake realtor who is representing dozens of property owners that are appealing their property assessments from BC Assessment, to force BCA to provide documents related to the assessments.
Jason Anson, with eXp Realty which operates in the Cowichan Lake area, is representing up to 30 property owners who are frustrated because many of their appeals of BC Assessment’s latest evaluation of their properties, which they consider much too high, were being dismissed without, they consider, due process.
Anson said BC Assessment, an independent body that provides annual value assessments on all properties in B.C., announced in May that they intended to physically inspect every property in the Youbou community that is under appeal, as well as an additional 100 properties in the area which are not under appeal, to reassess their values.
On June 6, Anson said he submitted a request to BC Assessment for all current manuals, instructions, or guidelines issued to officers or employees of BC Assessment related to the physical inspection of the residential properties.
“The residents being subject to these inspections feel it is their right to understand the scope and intention of these inspections they are being subject to as a result of their appeal,” he said.
“As BCA has decided to expand its inspections to an additional 100 properties in Youbou, a community of less than 500 homes, this has become a broader matter of public interest. BCA acknowledged receipt of my email, but follow up emails requesting a timeline for the provision of the requested documents have gone unanswered. Physical inspections were scheduled to begin on June 19 and it is my belief that BC Assessment is intentionally withholding these documents beyond the time frame of their inspections to keep the community uninformed regarding the reassessment process.”
Anson said he believes it’s very much a divide and conquer approach by BCA to the appeals from the group in an effort to get the property owners to withdraw them.
BC Assessment said that as the Youbou appeals are still active and ongoing with the Property Assessment Appeals Board, the second level of appeal for property assessments in B.C. after the Property Assessment Review Panel, BC Assessment cannot comment on any matter related to the appeals.
Spencer Hula, a case review officer with OIPC, said in a letter to Anson that he has determined that Anson’s complaint should be declined as BCA is not out of time to respond to the request for information.
“The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act allows a public body 30 days to respond to a request for access to information, and 30 days from June 6 is July 19,” Hula said.
“If you have not received a response by July 19, you may write to us again, at which time we may investigate.”