Penticton airport assessment plummets

News that Penticton Airport's tower is now worth only $20 came as a surprise to city officials.

News that Penticton Airport’s tower is now worth only $20 came as a surprise to city officials.

Last month, Nav Canada successfully convinced the B.C. Property Assessment Appeal Board that the control tower at Victoria Airport (located in North Saanich) had essentially no market value, since it couldn’t be used for anything but an airport control tower. The appeal board reduced the assessment to $20 from $1.4 million, and applied the same ruling to Castlegar, Pitt Meadows and Penticton airports.

Doug Leahy, Penticton’s chief financial officer, said the city did not receive official notice about the NavCan decision, though he learned of it when he received a call from Saanich.

The reassessment of the Victoria control tower is expected to cost North Saanich $72,000 in lost taxes each year. The loss for Penticton, on the other hand, is expected to be much less, since the airport building has an assessed value of about $270,000, including the property value and improvements. That doesn’t include hangars and other structures built by companies utilizing the airport.

“At the end of the day, the effect regardless is approximately $2,000,” said Leahy. “What we are trying to do right now is check with the B.C. Assessment Authority. In Victoria, the tower is separate from the terminal and here we are not sure that it is. And it should be, it should be separate.”

The ruling affects the 2011, 2012 and ongoing property assessments for the sites, which are privately owned by Nav Canada.

Leahy said Penticton currently has no plans to take action. He has since received a notice from Tracy  Wall, Deputy Assessor for the Okanagan Region, which states B.C. Assessment is pursuing a case on the decision and the matter is before the courts.

NavCan’s argument before the assessment appeal board was that since they were a not for profit organization, and the tower occupied land that could only be used for air traffic control, the property had no market value.

“I do understand they are going to try to do that across Canada,” said Leahy.

A similar argument was used by B.C. Ferries last year, who managed to get the value of the Horseshoe Bay terminal reassessed to $20 down from $49 million.  That was later overturned, and the terminal was reassessed to $47 million.