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Wriggling out of property assessments shifts tax burden

YYJ control tower. Photo © Brian Burger WireLizard via flickr and Creative Commons

YYJ control tower. Photo © Brian Burger WireLizard via flickr and Creative Commons

A Supreme Court of B.C. decision confirmed earlier this month that the air-traffic control tower at Victoria International Airport should be valued at $20. The property had been assessed at $1.43 million.

The ruling came after a long battle between North Saanich, where the airport is located, and Nav Canada, which owns and operates Canada’s civil air-navigation system.

The court-confirmed value of the property means about $26,000 less annual tax revenue for North Saanich. The municipality has already reimbursed Nav Canada $43,000 for taxes paid for 2011 and 2012. It is now expected to refund $55,000 for 2013 and 2014.

The ruling also applies to three other Nav Canada properties in B.C. The air traffic control towers at the Castlegar, Penticton and Pitt Meadows airports had originally been assessed at between $270,000 and $423,000.

And it sets a precedent for Nav Canada’s appeals of assessments of 120 other properties in B.C., including properties at the Vancouver International Airport valued at $9.9 million.

It sets a precedent also for other properties with single uses and low market exchange.

It has been pointed out that Nav Canada’s legal weaseling out from its property-tax responsibilities is yet another way in which other governments—with significantly larger revenue bases—are downloading responsibility for services and their funding onto municipalities….

Read the rest of this editorial at the Victoria Times Colonist….

YYJ from the air. Photo © Brian Burger, WireLizard, via flickr & Creative Commons

YYJ from the air. Photo © Brian Burger, WireLizard, via flickr & Creative Commons

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