Letter: Time for change in how home assessments are done

My assessments have increased by 136 per cent over the last four years

Time for change in how home assessments are done

Your article on the skyrocketing house prices in Youbou/Meade Creek failed to point out the primary cause for the big tax hike; the fundamentally flawed property assessment process.

I have lived on my property on Meade Creek for almost 40 years. I have made no improvements to the property in over 15 years. I get no income from my property. My assessments have increased by 136 per cent over the last four years, and my taxes have increased by 30-40 per cent over the last two years. There has been no change to my property, and no increased or improved services to justify these increases.

According to Stats Canada and the B.C. Real Estate Association, approximately five per cent of all homes in B.C. are sold each year. As has been documented elsewhere, the real estate market has been artificially and significantly inflated by development and sales of resources (such as logging), money laundering, foreign monetary investment, real estate conglomerates, and speculation. The effects of COVID and of government programs that restrict development have resulted in a lack of available housing which artificially inflate the real estate market. The property assessment process then applies these grossly inflated values onto the 95 per cent of homes that are unchanged and are not part of the real estate market. These greatly inflated values are then used by the governments to set tax rates, which are as flawed as the assessment process.

Klaus Kuhn states that he is surprised that more people have not complained about their assessments and taxes. If he had participated in the appeal process for the Assessment Authority, he would realize that the appeal process only supports the flawed process, and results in no change. People believe that there is nothing they can do to change the obviously flawed process. However, they are wrong.

In the 1970s, a similar problem with inflated assessments and flawed taxation existed in California (with a population equal to all of Canada). This resulted in 1978 in Proposition 13, which limited assessment increases to the cost-of-living adjustment for that year, until the property was either 1) sold, or 2) significant building or alteration occurred. This was supported by the California Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court.

This reasonable method of assessment for homes not in the real estate market would have resulted in an increase of 1/15th of the 136 per cent (or 9.5 per cent) for my property. There is no reason that anyone living in a home that has remained unchanged should accept an increased assessment of 20 per cent, or 30 per cent, or 136 per cent.

Unfortunately, in our parliamentary system, we have no way of challenging this flawed system. So I have three questions. Which of our political parties is willing to quickly change this flawed assessment process? If none of them are willing to fix the system, which of our political parties is willing to hold a plebiscite to find out how the people of B.C. feel about this flawed process? And finally, who among us is willing to work to correct this flawed process?

The province of B.C. is 45 years behind in establishing a fair and reasonable method of assessment. It is time for a change.

Peter A. Leckie

Lake Cowichan