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Assessing the Damage

4 Feb 2019 9:11 AM | Alex Acton (Administrator)

By Tom Lupton, Director

One of the benefits of living in an area like Shawnigan Lake is that there are a lot of very handy people around who are willing to give their time to their neighbours who need help. Whether you need a dock repaired from wind damage, flooring redone because of a flooding, wiring done in your new renovation project or someone to help you with a fence, there is always someone nearby who knows what they are doing. Which leads me to my question: Who knows a good carpenter?

Like many of you, I got my property assessment in the mail the other week, and upon opening it, my jaw nearly hit the floor.  I looked at my increased value and immediately began thinking of ways I could spend my newfound wealth. If I could sell my home for that amount of money, I could live in a palace in Regina! Except, of course, I’d be in Regina. But then the cold reality of what had really just happened swept over me like a power outage in a windstorm: Taxes.  

It’s fair to say that no one really enjoys paying taxes. We all do it, because stuff needs to get paid for and we mostly recognize that tax revenue is used to keep our communities working, but no one loves waving goodbye to that money. With an increased assessment that can only mean one thing: more taxation. Don’t we already pay enough?  Well, those government fat-cats hadn’t counted on my ingenuity. Cunning new plan: If I smash a few holes in the walls of my house with a sledgehammer, tear out some wiring, and dig up my yard my home will be valued less and I’ll pay less tax. I’m basically making money by wrecking my home! 

About midway through my fifth glorious hammer swing my wife came home and ‘calmly’ explained things to me about property taxes. It turns out that taxes don’t necessarily go up with an increase in assessed value. Rather, our property taxes are used to balance the CVRD budget. We start to pay more taxes when there is some expensive project in Saltair or Glenora that increases the expenses of the vast CVRD which then requires an increase in the property taxes of Shawnigan residents to balance the budget. I’m sure they’re grateful for your mandatory donation! The other thing I learned is that the best way to pay for all the things we want around here (nice trails, smoother roads, clean water, etc.) is to encourage development, because the taxes generated from development is assessed at a higher rate and would go a long way in paying for the services that we are currently doing without. 

Let’s be clear, there is development, and then there is development. No one wants monolithic block apartment buildings plunked down in the village, but considerate, useful, and tasteful development not only increases our quality of life, but actually helps reduce our tax burden. If we want more control over what kind of development we want in our community, and where our property taxes go, becoming a municipality sure would help. Good, new, development and a freeze or possible reduction in taxes sounds a little bit like cheating death (death and taxes being the only constants in life).  Now, if only someone had explained this to me before I picked up the hammer. Anyone got that carpenter’s number?

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