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Whistler property assessments rise again, Pemberton, Squamish assessments soar

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In Pemberton a house that sold for $292,000 in March 2002 resold for $365,000 in April 2003 for a 25 per cent increase. All houses on this year’s assessment roll in Pemberton are worth more than they were the year before.

Likewise in Squamish a single family home in Garibaldi Highlands sold for $210,000 in April 2002 and resold for $322,000 in April 2003. That’s an increase of 53 per cent.

Highfield admits this example is on the higher end of the spectrum but again, all houses on the Squamish assessment roll are worth more than they were the year before.

With assessments jumping again, it follows then that property taxes could be on the rise again too.

Mayor Hugh O’Reilly said the resort has tentative confirmation from the province that resident property owners will get some school tax relief again this year.

Last year resident homeowners with homes assessed at under $2 million were eligible for the Homeowners Grant, which is usually only applied on properties valued at less than $525,000. The provincial government also lowered the school tax rate for year-round resident homeowners, which translated into a $160 grant per tax bill.

"It definitely helps with some of the affordability issues from a resident’s point of view in Whistler but there’s still a larger global issue of fairness and equity that hasn’t been addressed yet," said O’Reilly.

"We’ll continue to bang on that door."

In the meantime Highfield encourages any owner who does not think their property was fairly assessed to contact the B.C. Assessment Authority.

Lists of assessments by address are available at municipal hall, local libraries and government agent’s offices, as well as the B.C. Assessment Web site at www.bcassessment.bc.ca .

If after talking to B.C. Assessment property owners still have a concern about their assessment, they can request an independent review from the Property Assessment Review Panel.

The deadline to request an independent review is on Monday, Feb. 2.

If property owners have not received their 2004 assessment notice by Thursday, Jan. 15, contact the local assessment office immediately.