Officials defend property assessments

Government officials say there are no plans to change the territory's property tax system.

Government officials say there are no plans to change the territory’s property tax system.

Whitehorse lawyer Graham Lang has suggested it is time to overhaul this regime, given his findings that some Whitehorse residents pay considerably more in property tax compared with others owning homes of comparable market value. In particular, owners of mid-ranged Granger houses pay $600 more than owners of homes that fetch comparable prices in Porter Creek and Riverdale.

Assessed values are part of the equation that the city uses to determine how much property tax residents owe.

Kelly Eby, the director of the property assessment taxation branch, says he doesn’t think there is a desire for change.

The valuation process looks at the value of the land and the property’s replacement cost, less depreciation, Eby explained.

The Assessment Taxation Act guides all that. It was last amended in 2004.

“In certain areas in the city, they’re going to have higher values based on the replacement cost, less depreciation,” Eby said.

“For example in the Riverdale neighbourhood, some of the buildings there are 45 years old in comparison to a neighbourhood such as Copper Ridge where there’s new homes, to a 15 to 20-year-old home.”

He said it’s a mistake to compare the way homes are assessed with the market value.

One looks at how much the market is willing to pay for a property and the other is set out by legislation, he said.

Eby, who is the chief territorial assessor and has been assessing properties for more than 10 years, thinks the current system is the right one for the territory.

“I think the intent is to fairly distribute the taxes that individuals will pay. So, let’s say, the owner of the $800,000-valued home wherever in the city, is not paying similar to the owner of the $50,000 home in the city,” he said.

The system works in the Yukon for a number of reasons, he said.

“We don’t see huge market value changes as you may in other areas. It aids municipalities in their budgeting. It aids property owners ultimately in the taxes they pay,” he said.

“It is also very hard in areas such as Old Crow or smaller communities to develop some sort of a different approach to the valuation that would be fair and equitable to all of them.”

With so little market activity, there is no other approach to valuation that could be used, he said.

The government is working constantly to come up with the most accurate replacement value for properties, he said.

“The assessors have a great resource because they are out in the field quite a bit looking at new buildings plus they have discussions with contractors. We review lumber reporters, CPI (Consumer Price Index) and various other tools.”

Property owners also have the option of disputing their assessment.

When the notices go out every year in December, residents have 30 days to lodge a complaint.

Rural and municipal properties are assessed on alternating years.

More complaints usually come during a municipal year, Eby said.

In some cases, the sides are able to come to an agreement before having to go to a hearing in front of a review board.

“When we go to the review board, for the most part, unless we haven’t been able to communicate with the property owner, we’re comfortable in supporting the value,” Eby said.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

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

Just Posted

Wyatt's World for Oct. 28, 2020.

Wyatt’s World for Oct. 28.… Continue reading

Yukon Child Care Board chair Amy Ryder says the board could be playing a bigger role in childcare policy making if they had more financial support from the Yukon government. (Submitted)
Yukon Child Care Board asks for larger role in annual report

The board is asking for a larger budget to increase outreach and advice

Yukon’s clocks will no longer change in March and November but will remain permanently on Pacific Daylight Saving Time. (Courtesy Yukon government)
Off the clock: Yukon prepares to end seasonal time changes

Starting on Nov. 1 Yukon will be one hour ahead of Vancouver and two hours ahead of Alaska

Dawson City as scene from West Dawson. Art Webster, the vice-chair of the Dawson Regional Planning Commission resigned last month over the Yukon governments unwillingness to pause speculative staking. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Vice-chair resigns from Dawson land-use planning commission

NDP warns that not pausing mining activity is the road to a second Peel decision

The opening ceremonies of the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg on July 28, 2017. The 2021 Canada Summer Games have officially been rescheduled for Aug. 6 to 21, 2022, exactly one year from the date the national competition was originally set to take place in the Niagara region of Ontario. (Canada Summer Games/Flickr)
Canada Summer Games dates set for 2022 but uncertainty remains for Yukon athletes

Yukon athletes continue waiting to get back into schools

A proposed Official Community Plan amendment would designate a 56.3 hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. Whitehorse city council passed first reading on a bylaw for the designation change at its Oct. 26 meeting, prompting an upcoming public hearing on Nov. 23 ahead of second reading on Dec. 7. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
Local contractors will be given an advantage on a contract for the design and construction services that will see a new reception building at Robert Service Campground decided city councillors during the Oct. 26 council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local firms will get advantage on contract for new Robert Service Campground building

Yukon-based companies competing for contract for new reception building will receive 20 extra points

Fallen trees due to strong winds are seen leaning on to power lines which caused some power outages around the territory on Oct. 26. (Courtesy of ATCO)
Wind knocks out power around the Yukon

High winds on Oct. 26 knocked out power to Faro, parts of Whitehorse and beyond

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over the Takhini elk herd be struck by the court. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Yukon government asks for Takhini elk lawsuit to be struck

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over… Continue reading

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging the reduction of its caribou quota to zero. (Yukon News file)
YG replies to outfitter’s legal challenge over caribou quota

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging… Continue reading

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this year, saying that with COVID-19, it’s “more important than ever.” (Black Press file)
Get flu vaccine, Yukon government urges

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this… Continue reading

Benjamin Munn, 12, watches the HPV vaccine in 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available to all Yukoners up to, and including, age 26. Currently the program is only available to girls ages nine to 18 and boys ages nine to 14. (Dan Bates/Black Press file)
HPV vaccine will be available to Yukoners up to, including, age 26

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read