EDITORIAL: Flat property, flat economy

Like a late Christmas present, Capital Region homeowners are eagerly tearing open their annual property value assessments this week

Like a Christmas present that arrives late, this week homeowners across the Capital Region and B.C. are eagerly tearing open their annual property value assessment from B.C. Assessment.

The notices, more than 144,000 in Greater Victoria, are vital for many reasons. Most people have a large portion of their personal wealth wrapped up in their homes and properties, and most hope for a steady year-after-year increase in value.

Overall property values help guide municipalities with budgeting and tax rates. An increase in property value doesn’t automatically translate into a tax hike, but if property values stay flat or decline, municipalities will certainly face the hard choices of cutting services, hiking taxes or both.

That appears to be the case this time around. Most people will find their properties have decreased in value or are about the same as last year. B.C. Assessment calls it a market that is “stabilizing,” rather than deflating.

It’s not a big surprise property values are flat lining or declining. Across Greater Victoria, real estate sales in 2012 slowed and prices remained stagnant for single family homes, and condos saw overall price decreases, an unheard of phenomenon in Victoria five or six years ago.

Greater Victoria is in a good position with respect to other parts of B.C. and Canada – it’s employment base is relatively diverse across the provincial and federal governments and the private sector. But the flat property values is a barometer and reflection of a broader lagging economy and a public worried about its fiscal future.

Cutbacks and austerity at all levels of government have been the norm since the recession of 2008, and 2013 won’t be an exception. Local municipal councils likely weren’t expecting large increases in property values, and will budget with that in mind.

Most local governments will want to keep tax hikes low, and that will likely mean job losses and service cuts. Flat growth might be the watchwords of 2013.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

SD62 bus driver Kerry Zado said it’s common to see drivers lose their patience and pass by his bus while he’s picking up students during the morning commute. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
School bus driver laments motorists who pass while red lights are flashing

All buses in Sooke School District outfitted with stop sign cameras

Victoria police are seeking home surveillance video and witnesses following a prowling incident in Esquimalt Jan. 20. (Black Press Media file photo)
Esquimalt prowler removes air conditioner, peers into person’s home

VicPD is seeking video footage, witnesses following Jan. 20 incident

A cyclist navigates the shoulder in traffic along Oak Bay Avenue in Victoria. (John Luton Photo)
Oak Bay council supports Fort Street bike lanes

Victoria bike lanes would connect to Cadboro Bay Road

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

Victoria police are warning people of a continued rise in cybercrime. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)
Victoria police warn of rising cybercrime called spear phishing

Fraudsters continue to trick people out of large sums of money

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

Seven streets in downtown Duncan, including Station Street, will soon have new native names added to their signage. (Submitted graphic)
New Duncan street signs will be in English and Hul’q’umi’num

Seven streets to get additional names in First Nations language

Most Read