Motion to challenge Assessment Authority on sky-high assessments in Vancouver

High density living space in Vancouver's Yaletown district.With non-profit housing operators, renters and commercial tenants now facing the impact of new, sky-high property assessments, pressure is growing on BC Assessment Authority to clarify its assessment methods, especially where increases are well above the average.

The Vision council has done what it could to mitigate these impacts, by allowing year-over-year averaging in hot spots where assessments are above average. This is in addition to the shift in property tax distribution, completed several years ago, to move some of the burden off commercial taxpayers and on to residential.

But the latest round of assessments have kindled new concerns, which are likely to canvassed at council tomorrow with the annual presentation of BC Assessment Authority representatives.

I’ll be tabling the following motion on notice — meaning it will be debated in the next council cycle — to seek more information both from the Assessment Authority and staff on additional steps that could be taken to mitigate the impact:


WHEREAS very large increases in property assessments, in some cases up to 65 percent, on commercial properties in certain areas of the city could pose the risk of business failures by self-employed business owners on fixed term triple-net leases who have limited ability to pass on increases to customers or to renegotiate the lease prior to expiry or renewal; and
WHEREAS increases in residential assessments by the BC Assessment Authority have also been very high, causing real concern and hardship to homeowners where those increases are above average and sometimes must be managed on fixed incomes; and
WHEREAS increases for some non-profit and co-op housing societies are high enough to threaten affordability for residents in certain locations; and
WHEREAS the City of Vancouver has implemented land assessment averaging solutions to assist property owners and businesses that may only partially mitigate the impact of these very high assessment increases; and
WHEREAS the B.C. Supreme Court ruling in the Amacon case, on the application of split assessments, released Feb. 1, 2016, should clarify the assessment and classification of properties that could be the subject of mixed use development; and
WHEREAS staff, in response to council’s motion of July 2014 have requested that BC Assessment Authority undertake a review of split class assessment and value in use :
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT COUNCIL call on the BC Assessment Authority to:

  • justify the very large increases established in many areas of the city and urge a careful review of the assessment methodology;
  • make their methodology available in open data format so the public can better understand what factors most affect increases;
  • take steps to complete its review of split assessments once the court verdict is received and “value in use as going concern” based on the court ruling;
  • provide clarification on applications for split assessments and “value in use as going concern;” and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that council direct staff to report back on the outcomes of the BCAA work, the implications of the BC Supreme court ruling  and any other steps that could be taken by the province to mitigate these increases, especially the impact of triple net leases on property tax payments for tenants.