A disabled Langley senior is facing a 1,300 per cent tax increase after his property was denied farm status for the first time in 35 years.
Fred Kramer, 84, has lived at the rural Glen Valley property with his wife, Ursula, since 1981. His daughter, Carmen, raises horses and provides horseback riding lessons there.
Despite nothing having changed with the land over the years, in 2017, BC Assessment revoked his farm status, and he’s faced a massive tax bill for the last two years, he said.
Although he is able to defer his taxes, due to his age, he is still upset.
He attempted to contact a superintendent at the ALC office in Abbotsford to ask why the status was removed, and was told by an inspector that he had missed a hearing.
He went a second time and asked to speak with a superintendent, and again, was served by an inspector instead.
“When he was finished and he went through it, I said, ‘Well, what do you want me to do now? Why don’t you inspect it?’ They haven’t inspected it for years. When I asked him what we should do now, he said ‘start farming’ and left,” Kramer said.
Kramer said that he is physically unable to farm — he is on heavy medication following heart surgery and a colostomy — and he and his wife believe the land is not suitable for it.
“It’s impossible to do farming here, there’s a big ravine back there, there is a big swamp,” Ursula said.
The property is located beside The Bluff subdivision of estate homes that was built in the mid 1990s. While homes in The Bluff have been excluded from the ALR, Kramer’s land has not.
Between the property taxes and the relentless calls from realtors asking if he’s selling his property, Kramer feels he is being pushed out.
“We kind of got used to this place, and I’d hate to be forced out of it, but I can’t pay the taxes. The 1,300 per cent increase is quite a shock. And they don’t give us water, we have no sewer and we have no public transportation, but we pay taxes. That’s what I thought wasn’t quite right.”
A representative at BC Assessment confirmed that the farm status has been removed, but for privacy reasons, could not release details.
“His property used to have farm class and no longer has farm class because it does not meet the requirements to permit it to go into farm class,” said Laura Schwagele, assessor with BC Assessment.
“There’s certain things that you have to do to be able to get into farm class, and the requirements were not met.”
Schwagele said that Kramer could get the status back if he “applies for farm status and meets the requirements.”
“Obviously, you have to actually be farming to get farm class, so that means you have to be selling farm products. Anybody who wants farm class, you don’t just apply because you have acreage, you actually have to be farming the property in order to get farm class.
“It’s quite complicated, and that’s why our staff have taken the time to help him understand the requirements for his property.”