Silver Creek resident Pat Peebles has launched a petition in response to the spike in assessed property values seen throughout North Okanagan-Shuswap communities. (Facebook image)

Silver Creek resident Pat Peebles has launched a petition in response to the spike in assessed property values seen throughout North Okanagan-Shuswap communities. (Facebook image)

‘Fight it’: Spike in assessed property values prompts Shuswap woman to start petition

Resident criticizes timing of increase amid pandemic and after catastrophic events

Pat Peebles will be appealing her recent property assessment and she’s willing to help others do the same, in hopes it will help send a message to the B.C. government.

“If the increase isn’t reasonable, it isn’t fair, fight it, because it’s bull…,” said the longtime Silver Creek resident, who is concerned this year’s spike in assessed property values will result in tax increases for homeowners, business owners and landlords.

According to BC Assessment, the independent body that develops and maintains property assessments for the province, property values in the majority of communities within the Thompson Okanagan area (which includes the North Okanagan-Shuswap) increased by at least 30 per cent. Peebles, however, says she’s spoken with neighbours and others who saw theirs increase up to 70 per cent, causing significant stress.

“I got phone calls from Vernon, from seniors… living in that trailer court that’s beside the airport there,” said Peebles. “They put their value up over $500,000… and they don’t own the land. And it’s trailers. I talked (them) off the anxiety cliff and said, ‘You know, OK guys, I’ll help you out.’”

Read more: Most Salmon Arm properties see 2022 assessment jump more than 30 per cent

Read more: Okanagan home to some of B.C.’s top priced real estate

Peebles has launched a petition on titled, STOP excessive BC Assessment property value increases. She and spouse Andy Peebles have also written a letter to B.C.’s premier, local politicians and others, stressing the sudden increase in property values of 40 to 70 per cent is unreasonable by any standards, especially at this time, amid a pandemic and after back-to-back catastrophic weather events.

“I got pissed off thinking, you know, we’ve lived through fire, we’ve lived through COVID – if we’re still standing – and you’re gonna do this now?” said Pat. “That’s my biggest thing. For God’s sake, this province isn’t anywhere near back to what you would say is ‘normal.’”

In a Jan. 2 media release, BC Assessment speaks to incidents subsequent to July 1, 2021 , when current assessed property values were determined based on market values.

“The Thompson area real estate market has remained very active and that means most property owners can expect a notable increase for 2022,” commented Thompson area Deputy Assessor Tracy Shymko in the release. “Unfortunately, parts of our region have also been severely impacted by fires, floods and landslides, and we are here to help such property owners with possible amendments to their 2022 assessments and invite any impacted property owners to connect with us if they haven’t already done so.”

Other concerns of Pats prompting the petition include the “soaring costs of basic necessities and a nationwide housing affordability crisis.”

Recently, the City of Salmon Arm (see video below) and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) released information about how property assessments affect property taxes. The regional district stressed a 40 per cent increase in property assessment does not automatically equal a 40 per cent increase in your property tax.

“The most important factor is not how much your assessed value has changed, but how much the local government needs in tax revenue,” reads the release. “The next most important factor is how your assessed value has changed relative to the average change for similar properties in your local government.”

For example, said the CSRD, if local government increased taxes by two per cent, and if your property’s value change was lower than the average change for your property class, your taxes will be less than two per cent higher than the previous year. If your property value change was similar to the average, your taxes will likely be two per cent higher, and if the value change was higher than the average, your taxes will be more than two per cent higher than the previous year.

This offers little comfort to Pat or others she’s heard from who saw substantial increases to their assessment. Pat noted she and Andy own a rental property in Vernon and its assessed value shot up by 68 per cent.

“Our little house in Vernon is a shack, and they put it up 68 per cent because they compared it to the guys with swimming pools just up the block…,” said Pat, who plans to appeal with BC Assessment. “The thing is, this isn’t just about us – it’s the stress of what everybody else has to do to fight them. A lot of people just aren’t skilled to do this.”

The deadline for filing a notice of complaint (appeal) with BC Assessment is Jan. 31, 2022. Pat said she’s willing to help people unfamiliar with the process, and can be reached by telephone at 250-540-2370.

“Maybe, in the end, we needed to have an incremental amount of increase, but I really think… it’s still immoral to do it when we’re still in a pandemic,” said Peebles.
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