Letters

Change in threshold for homeowner’s grant is unfair

Editor:

The 2014 B.C. budget states that, “For properties valued above the threshold, the (homeowner) grant is reduced by $5 for every $1,000 of assessed value in excess of the threshold.”  This reduction in the value of homes eligible for the grant from $1,295,000 to $1,100,000 creates an uneven playing field for homeowners.

While in most of the province, $1.1 million will buy a very substantial dwelling, our 40-year-old neighbourhood has subdivision style houses, considered teardowns by developers. Some of the houses are assessed under the $1.1 million threshold and others are above.

These houses are decent family homes, but they certainly are not mansions by any definition. The property values have spiked because the area is targeted by developers who build trophy homes for wealthy buyers. In this area, a number of long-time homeowners—-many on fixed incomes—-will lose their grants, while next-door neighbours will not. This is not fair for those homeowners whose assessments are above the arbitrary cut-off (Our home is under the cut-off).

The loss of the homeowner grant puts pressure on owners, especially senior families. Many are original owners in this previously stable neighbourhood. These people have raised their families here; they have been the backbone of the community, volunteering for many activities over the years. They are paying far more than the senior family example illustrated in the B.C. budget, whose net property taxes are only $1,921. The last year our property taxes, with seniors’ grant, were that low was in 2008.

It is unfair to assume that in urban areas of southwest B.C., a property valued at $1.1 million is in the high-end category. Standard homes—-the term used by the BC Assessment Authority to describe these dwellings—-should be recognized as such and be eligible for the homeowner’s grant.

Marion Smith

Richmond

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