A brief summary for the history of this issue is available on the SWOA website in previous posts. (See under THE GOVERNMENT tab)
For the 2017 property tax year we expect many but not all dock owners will be required to pay twice for parcel tax items which fund services from the CSRD and the City of Sicamous. This is happening because the BC Assessment Authority working with the Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resources began issuing assessment folios to upland owners who have docks on the foreshore. This started in 2015 with all Registered dock owners receiving a second folio. BC Assessment believes this is a legal necessity but that it would not affect net tax paid. The plan was to use information from many sources including reporting by neighbours to identify upland owners for non registered docks this year. The BC Assessment Authority is aware there are still docks in place where they have not issued folios. They hope to have them all by next tax year.
These new folios were initiated in the Okanagan Shuswap specifically Vernon, Coldstream, Salmon Arm, Sicamous, NORD and CSRD. Through queries to these various Finance departments we have learned that only CSRD and Sicamous have applied Parcel Taxes to these new folios. For both Sicamous and CSRD waterfront property owners with docks pay double for the Shuswap Watershed Council and the CSRD also has them pay twice for Liquid Waste Management. The Ombudsperson’s office agreed that the CSRD does have the authority to levy these taxes. In their words:
“The decision to not exempt foreshore lease tax folios from the parcel tax was a discretionary decision of the Board. In most cases this Office [the Ombudsperson’s] affords a relatively high degree of deference to elected boards or councils. Elected officials act and make decisions based on what they consider to be the interests of their constituencies.”
The CSRD Board was told by staff that it would be administratively onerous for these new folios created by BC Assessment to not attract parcel tax. But of course, out of all the taxation areas listed above, only the CSRD and Sicamous have instituted these taxes.
But the saga goes on. The CSRD has a new committee called the ‘Parcel Tax Review Committee’. They have not had a meeting yet and no Terms of Reference or Agendas are posted but we hope this is a way for the Board members to be better informed. Also, it is unclear how the new rules for registering your dock (see article in this newsletter) will affect this action by BC Assessment and local governments.
We will keep on top of this issue for our members.