By Laura Keil
An Albreda property owner couldn’t believe his eyes when he opened his assessment notice this year. His 20-acre parcel in Albreda south of Valemount was assessed at $288,000, a 230 per cent increase from the previous year.
Ryan Allen bought the land for $65,000 12 years ago, and it went up $1000/year on average prior to this year.
He plans to build a house on the land, but with assessments this high, he’s worried about the tax impacts if he builds.
“(For the land alone) I’m going to end up paying $1,400 a year (in taxes) for a piece of raw land you can’t really do anything with,” he said.
Other properties have skyrocketed too, due to a spike in the value of land (no similar increase for the buildings): for example, one property jumped from $235,100 to $637,600 for a trailer on 132 acres (the land alone increased from $175,000 to $580,000). Another parcel jumped from $172,000 to $571,000 for 146 bare acres.
BC Assessment uses recent property sales to determine assessments for similar properties. Allen said one property that sold last year for 350,000 had been on the market for 13 years before it sold to an out-of-town buyer.
“I don’t know where else these properties are selling that are driving ours up so bad.”
Beau Rossel, Deputy Assessor for the Northern BC Region for BC Assessment said Albreda properties went up disproportionately this year as a result of their being undervalued in previous years, he said.
“Some values in the Albreda area have increased more than the average rural property near Valemount,” he said. “These increases are due to a recent reassessment of land values in that pocket area.”
He said they typically have not seen many sales south of Valemount, but recent market activity “indicated that assessed values had been quite low and, after market analysis, we determined new values for the 2022 assessments.” He said the 2022 assessments are similar to other rural properties in the larger rural Valemount area, and much more in line with current market conditions.
The Goat asked if there were any “checks and balances” to shield property owners from dramatic one-year increases. Rossel said the Assessment Act directs them to assign market value to a property based on its likely sale price on July 1st the previous year “to ensure the basis of equitable taxation for all owners.”
“A large change in the assessed value from year to year does not necessarily indicate that the value is incorrect,” he said.
But Allen points to the fact that Albreda lacks the services that are available to similar properties further north, like cell service.
“What is going on here? It’s one thing to have an increase but in a place with no services, these kinds of increases are going to push anyone local out.”
Allen said they owned a house in town and sold it so they could move to their Albreda property, but they’ve run into myriad problems in developing their property, including delays with BC Hydro.
He said he will file a complaint with BC Assessment but he worries about the future too.
“What’s going to happen around here when all the pipeliner guys are gone? With all these super overpriced properties?”
“There’s not enough work, not enough living wages, for people around here to survive on, if they think jacking up the property values around here 300% is going to help, it’s not when it finally crumbles down.”