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Editorial: A perfect storm of assessments and property taxes

Local politicians deferred bunch of stuff to keep property taxes artificially low from 2020 to 2022
House prices have risen again in the Cowichan Valley from last year, according to the latest information from BC Assessment. (File photo)

We are facing the perfect storm this year.

And it will be painful for some residents in the Cowichan Valley.

On one hand we once again experienced a rise in property assessments in Cowichan. Some didn’t go up as much as last year, when the increases were sky-high at 35 to 52 per cent on average, but most are facing increases between 13 and 15 per cent, which is still a significant number. Especially when one adds together the rise over two years.

And in Lake Cowichan, the average home went up 23 per cent this year, with some homes along the waterfront in Youbou, Mesachie Lake and Honeymoon Bay going up as much as 26 to 28 per cent.

It’s already been acknowledged that these assessments may not actually reflect current values, as calculations were done in July, at the height of a red-hot housing market that saw homes routinely sell for above asking price, often in bidding wars.

The assessment situation is coupled in 2023 with a predicted greater than usual rise in property taxes by local governments. There are a few reasons for this. One, there is a whole bunch of infrastructure hitting the end of its lifespan at the same time that is requiring replacement or significant renovation. And two, local politicians deferred a bunch of stuff to keep property taxes artificially low from 2020 to 2022, to help people during the pandemic.

For folks who lost their jobs, or whose businesses slowed, this was a welcome respite. But now it’s time to pay the piper. Projects that were put off are appearing back on the to-do lists at the Cowichan Valley Regional District, Town of Lake Cowichan, Municipality of North Cowichan and City of Duncan (which is also in the unique situation of having to start paying for policing as their population finally tipped over the 5,000 mark in the last census).

The CVRD’s situation with their waste collection trucks is a perfect case in point. The trucks have been dropping like flies to the point where the CVRD is having to rent equipment to fill the gap until new trucks can be delivered. And they’re not the only government looking at new waste-collection trucks.

In this vein, residents must keep in mind that services must be paid for and not doing so has consequences.

But our local politicians must keep in mind the rising bills residents are facing as they firm up their yearly budgets over the next few months.

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