Abbotsford City Hall (File photo )

Fix B.C.’s outdated property tax system, Abbotsford mayor urges

Braun bemoans tax bill increases after surge in home values hit multi-family market

More than 2,000 Abbotsford property owners have received letters warning them that they’ll likely be facing a significant property tax hike this year thanks to above-average assessment increases.

That has local politicians once again calling for the province to ease the burden for homeowners who see their assessments spike – and who frequently blame the city for their much-higher tax bills.

Owners of strata units in apartment or townhouse complexes received the majority of notices, BC Assessment deputy assessor Robert Smith told council Monday. They’ve been warned that the value of their homes increased much more than the 18 per cent city average.

Homeowners with an average assessment increase will see their property taxes go up by around 2.4 per cent – the amount of increased tax revenue the city has proposed for its next budget. But many owners of strata units have seen price jumps of up to 40 per cent, a disparity that will trigger a large tax jump. (Those who see the assessed value of their homes rise by less than the 18 per cent average could see their property taxes go down.)

Mayor Henry Braun has previously called on BC Assessment and the province to find a way to mitigate the way spikes in value affect different property classes. Last year, a similar situation occurred in the single-family housing sector, with the value of homes – and the taxes that are due on them – increasing much more than strata properties.

“Something needs to change,” Braun said Monday, describing the tax system as outdated and unfair. He referenced previous suggestions that different classes of homes be taxed at different rates. That would give municipalities more flexibility to even out the tax implications resulting in surges in the housing market. But it would also see certain types of residential property taxed more heavily than others.

Braun said he heard from many residents upset about higher tax bills last year, and expects the same to occur once tax time rolls around in 2018. And he said it’s difficult to explain that the city is only receiving two per cent more taxes when a homeowner with a large assessment is having to pay hundreds of dollars more.

“Local government finds itself in a position where it doesn’t have the tools to address [the situation] unless there’s a change,” he said.

Coun. Dave Loewen said it’s “patently unfair” that houses that use similar amounts of city services carry a greater share of the tax burden. Loewen also expressed worry that seniors who have seen their property values increase dramatically were being driven out of their homes by higher tax bills.

Smith noted that the Ministry of Finance does have a program that allows such homeowners to defer those taxes until after the sale of their homes. However, not all are willing to take advantage of that low-cost solution, Braun said, because they don’t want to feel there is a lien on their homes.

Smith’s presentation also revealed that across Abbotsford, $347 million of property was assessed at higher rates because owners did not qualify – or have not yet applied for – farm status. While Smith said a little more than half that $347 million could be re-classified as farm status over the ensuing months, that still means farming has ceased on dozens of properties over the last year.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Abbotsford Panthers win EVAA title

Abby senior boys defeat Yale Lions 90-79 on Sunday to capture banner

Abbotsford athletes earn medals at BC Winter Games

Gymnasts, judo competitors big local winners at Fort St. John event

Surge in Fraser Health home-care complaints concerns seniors advocate

Number of people complaining about home care has risen substantially over the last four years

Mission MLA Simon Gibson appointed Assistant Deputy Speaker

Gibson will now preside over daily sessions of the House, when the Deputy Speaker or Speaker is away

VIDEO & SLIDESHOW: Earlybird RV Show in Abbotsford

Annual event takes over Tradex over the weekend

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

Man pleads guilty to stabbing woman, off-duty cop outside North Delta elementary school

The suspect, whose name is under a publication ban, faced 10 charges in relation to this incident

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Royals, Elvis, Captain Cook: Hundreds of wax figures find new life in B.C. man’s home

Former director of Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum still hopes to revive wax figure tourism

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Okanagan man swims across Columbia River to evade Trail police

RCMP Cpl. Devon Reid says the incident began the evening of Thursday, Feb. 20

‘Hilariously bad’: RCMP looking for couple with forged, paper Alberta licence plate

Mounties said the car crashed when it lost a wheel but the duo ran away as police arrived

Most Read