The dramatic rise in property values is playing a large part in the big tax increase in the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s Electoral Area F.
Area F, or Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls, is facing a whopping tax increase of 9.55 per cent in 2021, which will see a tax increase of $124.96 on the average $565,911 home, while the rest of the areas in the CVRD are looking at an average tax increase of 2.48 per cent this year.
The annual budgets for regional districts are much more complicated than municipalities, which typically set the same tax rates uniformly through their jurisdictions. The tax rates for each electoral area can fluctuate a great deal for a variety of reasons, including property assessments.
Ian Morrison, the area’s director, said he has always been in support of keeping tax increases as close to zero as possible in Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls.
“I know people are hurting because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the 9.55 per cent tax increase in Area F is based a lot on what is happening with the property assessments in the area, and we have no control over that,” he said.
“There are other factors, like the fact that half the taxable property in Area F is privately managed forestry land, but the rise in property values is playing a big part.”
Natalie Wehner, the CVRD’s finance manager, confirmed the fact that the increased value of residential property assessments is playing a large part in the tax increase in Area F, and noted that a decrease in taxes from the area’s privately managed forestry land is also a factor.
“We have a five per cent decrease in taxes from the forest lands in Area F this year, so while residential property owners paid 45 per cent of the area’s taxes last year, they will be paying for 50 per cent this year,” she said.
“As well, Area F and Area I are the only CVRD electoral areas that are paying for recreation in Lake Cowichan, and that has gone up considerably in 2021.”
BC Assessment’s annual evaluation of homes across the province that was released in January showed that properties in Electoral Area F rose the most in value compared to neighbouring areas.
The assessed value of the average single-family home in Honeymoon Bay and Mesachie Lake, which are both in Area F, has increased 20 per cent over the last year, according to BC Assessment.
Morrison said, due to the ongoing hot housing market, a couple of waterfront homes on Walton Road in Honeymoon Bay were recently sold at dramatically high prices, and BC Assessment has applied that to all other property assessments in the area.
“I own two properties in Honeymoon Bay, my principal residence and a rental property, so I get double the tax increase,” he said.
“That’s one of the reasons why I’m always cognizant to keep our taxes as low as possible.”