Trafalgar Lands Ltd. v. British Columbia (Assessor of Area #09)
The proposed appellant seeks leave to appeal an order dismissing an appeal on a
stated case and upholding a decision of the Property Assessment Appeal Board.
The Board’s decision concerned the equity of tax assessments of commercial
property owned by the appellant, in comparison with smaller properties in the same
area that received a 15% reduction in land values. The appellant asserts errors in
law arising from the Board’s acceptance of an Assessor’s report that breached
appraisal principle by failing to take into account the value of improvements, finding
the onus to be on the appellant to establish its property was not treated equitably,
and finding that the improvements in the Assessor’s paired sales had minimal value.
Held: Application dismissed. The appellant has not identified a question of law that
has some prospect of success on appeal. The chambers judge correctly
characterized the first and third grounds of appeal as errors of fact, there was
sufficient evidence before the Board to ground its findings of fact, and it cannot be
said that the Board adopted a method of assessment that was wrong in principle by
accepting the Assessor’s expert evidence. The case law has established that there
is no legal burden of proof in assessment appeals, but rather an evidentiary or
persuasive burden, and neither the chambers judge nor the Board imposed a legal
burden of proof on the appellant.
Reasons for Judgment of the Honourable Madam Justice Fisher:
The proposed appellant, Trafalgar Lands Ltd. (Trafalgar), seeks leave to
appeal an order dismissing an appeal on a stated case and upholding a decision of
the Property Assessment Appeal Board of British Columbia (the Board), under
s. 65(9) of the Assessment Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 20 [the Act]. The Board confirmed
a decision of the Property Assessment Review Panel that confirmed tax
assessments for the years 2015 to 2018 of commercial property owned by Trafalgar,
located on West Broadway in Vancouver (the Property).
Trafalgar disputes the assessments of the Property on the basis that they
were not equitable in relation to comparable properties. For the years 2015–2018,
the Assessor valued small properties zoned for mixed commercial and residential
uses in the West Broadway corridor (those less than 6,900 square feet; 6,250 in
2015), at the base land value reduced by 15%. The Property is larger, similarly
zoned, and was valued without this reduction. It presently houses a two-storey,
9,512 square foot building in poor condition. The first level is leased commercially
and the second is vacant.