Prince Rupert could be losing some tax revenue in the future as BC Ferries confirmed it is appealing the assessed value of the terminal.
The crown corporation successfully appealed the value of the Horseshoe Bay terminal in West Vancouver, resulting in the value of the property being dropped from $47 million to just $20. The reason the Property Assessment Appeal Board ruled in favour of BC Ferries is because the land lease requires the property to be a ferry terminal, and that B.C. Ferries is losing money, a market-based approach suggests the land is virtually worthless.
Here in Prince Rupert, the terminal is valued at $1.8 million and contributed about $46,500 to the municipal tax roll.
In addition to devaluing the property the board made the decision retroactive to 2010 when the appeal was launched, meaning the City of West Vancouver has to pay back $750,000 in the form of three annual payments of $250,000.
According to BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall, the Horseshoe Bay appeal was put forward as a test case. The ruling is now being appealed by the District of West Vancouver and BC Assessment.
“We don’t believe that anything will move ahead until such time as there is a resolve on the Horseshoe Bay issue,” said Marshall.
“As this matter is under appeal, it is inappropriate for us to comment any further.”
However, the decision to make these appeals does not sit well with North Coast MLA and NDP Ferries Critic Gary Coons.
“I see the potential cut in revenue from city coffers as another ‘slap in the face’ from BC Ferries, which is sanctioned by the policies of this BC Liberal government… Coastal and ferry dependent communities are feeling the wrath of outrageous fares, record declines in ridership and service cuts. Now we have more downloading on cash-strapped municipalities,” he said.
“If BC Ferries wins their appeals at all terminals and it is upheld, the provincial government must step in, rectify their mistake, and supply a grant in lieu ‘formula’ to save face.”