Burnaby business group pleads for help in face of skyrocketing property taxes
Affordability has become a major concern in certain sections of Burnaby.
But it’s not just homeowners or renters lamenting the lack of affordability, it’s also the business community which is facing enormous increases in the cost of doing business.
One of the biggest issues facing the Burnaby Board of Trade is the rapid rise in property values in sections of the city.
Industrial and commercial land prices have soared in areas where developers are hoping to densify.
Around the Sperling and Production Way SkyTrain stations, large parcels of industrial land have seen millions of dollars of added value from BC Assessment, and it has left some owners scrambling to pay what is likely to be a huge increase in property taxes this summer.
The Burnaby Board of Trade is looking to take the issue on with both the provincial and municipal governments.
WATCH: Burnaby business owner facing 250% assessment increase
“We see people paying taxes on what the land could be used for, not what the land is being used for,” said Paul Holden, president of the Burnaby Board of Trade.
“We need to take a look at the assessment procedure in B.C. to more accurately reflect what the current use of the land is.”
The provincial government recently announced it was protecting certain industries when it came to the assessment process.
According to a news release from 2018, the NDP government is making changes to the Assessment Act.
Class 4 industrial land will only be valued at its current use, and not what is referred to as “Highest and Best Use.”
Class 4 industrial land however, only makes up a fraction of the businesses in the province.
WATCH: Long-time Burnaby small business facing closure over high taxes
It is only the most intense industries, such as sawmills, that will qualify for what amounts to a tax break.
In a statement, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said there could be more changes coming for small and medium sized businesses.
“We are continuing to review how properties in different classes are valued, with a focus on commercial and light industrial properties,” the ministry said.
“The review is particularly focused on ways to improve how the system works during times of rapidly rising real estate markets.”
In the meantime, one business owner tells Global News he can’t afford the consequences of those rapidly rising markets.
Kim Hauner is the owner of Interstyle Ceramics and Glass. His business saw a 251 per cent increase in its assessment.
Hauner believes his property taxes could go up by as much as $400,000. Faced with a bill he can’t afford, he may be forced to shut the doors and sell.
But he is doubtful a buyer would pay what BC Assessment says the land is worth, and he is frustrated his business may go under due to nothing more than speculation from developers.
“This is what happens when land is used strictly as an investment instrument. There is no other value given to the land except its potential for redevelopment,” said Hauner.
If the business closes, 125 people will be out of work, and the City of Burnaby and the province will lose all the taxes generated from the business.
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