West Vancouver’s loss of property tax revenues from two BC Ferries terminals in its borders is causing some concern at the Comox Valley Regional District.
The CVRD receives nearly $28,000 per year in property tax revenues from BC Ferries properties in the Comox Valley, and the Comox-Strathcona Regional Hospital District (CSRHD) receives over $10,700 per year. But the future of these funds is somewhat uncertain due to a decision by the Property Assessment Appeal Board (PAAB) regarding the properties in West Vancouver — which could set a precedent.
“If you lose this tax revenue,” says the CVRD’s CAO Debra Oakman, “you know, the services aren’t decreasing so you need to find that cost and spread that out on the rest of the taxpayers so there’s always a concern about that.”
According to a CVRD staff report, the PAAB recently decided in favour of an assessment appeal by BC Ferries for its two terminal properties in West Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay); the PAAB stated that because the Province said the properties can only be used for ferry terminals, market demand for the properties is basically non-existent.
The BC Ferries properties went from being assessed at $47.7 million together to just $20, and the decision is retroactive to 2010 — so West Vancouver must repay property tax revenues of $250,000 each year for the last three years and face a shortfall of $250,000 in future years.
West Vancouver and BC Assessment Authority are appealing the PAAB decision, and at Tuesday’s CVRD board meeting, directors passed a resolution to send a letter supporting them.
Although the PAAB decision does not directly affect the CVRD, West Vancouver’s appeal states: “BC Ferries has decided that they would appeal property assessments related to ferry terminals on an individual basis with the intention that a decision made for one appeal would create precedence for all others to follow.”
Five ferry terminals are located within the CVRD. The BC Ferries ferry terminal properties at Little River, Buckley Bay, Hornby Island and the two on Denman Island were valued at about $5.7 million this year, according to the CVRD staff report.
The CVRD uses property tax revenues from the ferry terminals to provide funding to a variety of services in the Comox Valley, such as the Victim Services Program, Comox Valley Community Justice Service, Search and Rescue – Comox Valley, recreation, transit, Comox Valley Airport Service and the Comox Valley Art Gallery.