It’s worth just $20, not $1.4 million.
That’s the ruling on the assessed property value of air traffic control facilities at Victoria International Airport in North Saanich, including the control tower.
Nav Canada, the private company that runs air traffic control at Canada’s airports, challenged the $1.4-million assessment, which determines how much property tax must be paid. It argued that the assessment should be much lower because the site can’t be used for anything else and there is no market for the property as a stand alone site.
The Property Assessment Appeal Board agreed. “The market for the restricted use is inexorably tied with the larger airport and the market for airports,” a board ruling says. “The properties themselves are not bought and sold in the market, and, therefore, they cannot have a market value as stand alone properties.”
North Saanich Mayor Alice Finall said Nav Canada challenged tax assessments for 2011, 2012 and 2013. The tax payment for all three years is $72,500.
“We’re appealing it, of course,” she said.
“We are writing to the province as well as filing our appropriate documents for the appeal and we’re hopeful that we can perhaps see settlements similar to what we saw with the ferries, or better.”
Last year, B.C. Ferries sought to reduce assessments on its terminals and won a ruling that declared Horseshoe Bay terminal to be worth only $20.
The decision was appealed by the District of West Vancouver, which stood to lose $250,000 in property taxes in 2013. Other municipalities that rely on B.C. Ferries property tax revenue, including North Saanich, also complained and said they would take the case to B.C. Supreme Court.
Political pressure led to a solution. The B.C. government convened discussions that led to a formula that reassessed the Horseshoe Bay terminal at $47 million.
Nav Canada has also won assessment cuts, to $20, for its facilities at airports in Penticton, Pitt Meadows and Castlegar.
It is seeking to lower the $9.9-million assessment for Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, but has not received a ruling yet.
The City of Richmond would lose about $80,000 a year in property tax revenue if the assessment drops to $20, said Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, adding he had not been informed that the company had appealed its assessment.
“That’s ridiculous,” Brodie said. “Just because you have a unique use for a building or some property and it’s zoned accordingly, to say that it has no value is just fiction.”
© Copyright 2013