Heights residents concerned about soaring assessments

Click to play video: 'Property Assessment Protest' Property Assessment Protest
WATCH: Burnaby home owners are protesting property assessments that are forcing generations of families out of neighbourhoods. Kristen Robinson reports – Jan 22, 2016

The Jurcic family has lived in the same Burnaby home for more than three generations but after receiving their 2016 property assessment, they fear they may lose it all.

“Well at first it was utter shock and disbelief I had to look at the paper twice to see if I was reading the numbers correctly,” says Dana Jurcic.

The property assessment on their modest home in Vancouver Heights soared by 37 per cent, or nearly $400,000, and the family worries their property taxes may see a similar spike, potentially forcing them out of the neighbourhood they’ve grown to love.

WATCH: 2016 property assessment numbers in B.C. are released

Click to play video: '2016 property assessment numbers in B.C. are released' 2016 property assessment numbers in B.C. are released
2016 property assessment numbers in B.C. are released – Jan 4, 2016

“I grew up here. I was three years old when we moved in I’m now 44 and this is the only home I’ve ever known…and if this continues I won’t be able to afford to keep my home”, says Jurcic fighting back tears.

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That same fear is echoed up and down Oxford Street, where neighbours like Daryl Wang are trying to hold on to their homes amid skyrocketing assessments.

“If the average for Burnaby is 20 per cent or 22 per cent and we’re 38 per cent then we’re really gonna get dinged,” says Wang, who has owned his home since 1984.

QUIZ: Which areas in B.C. have the most expensive homes?

“Our concern is that increasingly with property values going up, that makes it difficult for young families like ours to afford to live in neighbourhoods like this,” says Winnie Tam, who also saw her home’s assessment rise by more than 30 per cent.

BC Assessment says if your assessment rises considerably more than the average in your community, your taxes will likely go up. Jurcic and her neighbours in the Vancouver/Burnaby Heights community are now calling on the province to impose a fair and equitable cap on the property tax homeowners are required to pay.

UBC professor Tom Davidoff and his colleagues at the Sauder School of Business want to see a surtax that would target vacant properties and absentee real estate investors.

READ MORE: B.C. wrestles with ways to cool housing market

“We’ve proposed to increase property taxes on selected buyers but again politically, as we see in Burnaby, people become up in arms about property tax increases even when they are getting wealthier due to the increase in value of their property,” said Davidoff.

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As for the Jurcics? They just want to continue raising their kids in a neighbourhood they hope isn’t lost to the real estate gold rush.

“I intend on passing my house on to my two children and I’m worry I won’t be able to do that,” says Dana.

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