The real estate market in the region has been hot, and Cumberland’s market has been hotter than most.
During a recent update to council, Maurice Primeau, BC Assessment Authority’s deputy assessor for the region, pointed out the community, with its location and recreation opportunities, had shown higher than average assessment increases during the last year.
“It’s a very enticing and inviting community,” he told council during a May 30 committee of the whole meeting. “It’s sort of like a Whistler of Vancouver Island.”
While most of north Vancouver Island posted assessment value increases of at least 30 per cent for single-family residential, Cumberland’s average was 38 per cent higher than the previous year’s value, Primeau said. Courtenay and Comox were at 35 per cent, Campbell River was 34 per cent, Port Hardy was 39 per cent and Port Alice was 35 per cent. Port McNeil actually rose by 43 per cent.
Tahsis provided an exception, as its increase was just under 30 per cent, but it had shown a disproportionate increase the previous year.
“Demand was incredibly heavy across Vancouver Island…. It was a very, very busy year,” Primeau said. “It was a wild market.”
He did note with changes in interest rates, recent market activity in the region is slowly a little, with homes staying on the market a bit longer and less ‘overbidding’ on homes once they are up for sale.
Primeau also looked into data on managed forest specifically in response to a request from Cumberland’s council. Of note, he said the latest value shows a drop of $635,000. The total value is based on factors such as soil, trees and topography. The value of the timber is only taken into account one time, whenever it is harvested, then removed as of the next year, which is what happened in this case to explain the drop.
“Managed forest is a bit of an interesting beast,” he said.
Council had questions about the process and how the village can change the way the rates are calculated for the managed forest land in order to provide more consistency for what the forest companies pay.
In his presentation, Primeau also touched on misconceptions around what people’s assessments mean versus their actual property tax rates, saying the assessments are only one factor, along with the rates, used to calculate property taxes. The rates, and ultimately the tax levies, are then calculated by a taxing authority like a local government.
“That is a very clear line in the sand,” he said, adding the important thing for people to remember is how their assessment value compares to the average in their community.
The role for BC Assessment, Primeau added, is to determine how to weigh the value of each property in a class fairly against similar ones.
Coun. Jesse Ketler said she understood the role the assessments played for individual properties but added a high assessment roll increase still has an effect for communities as a whole because it can mean a community like Cumberland can pay more for regional services than its neighbours do.
“It does affect how we are taxed through the regional district,” she said.