Whitehorse property taxes boost prices

Whitehorse property taxes are going up, but Coun. Ranj Pillai says that increase is also driving up the price of property in the city.

Whitehorse property taxes are going up, but Coun. Ranj Pillai says that increase is also driving up the price of property in the city.

“Commercial landowners have taken a tremendous hit over the last number of years and they’re going to continue to do so,” he said.

He pointed to the Titanium Way commercial centre, currently being developed by Northern Vision Development, as a prime example.

The taxes on that property have increased more than 300 per cent in the last four years, said Pillai.

That’s because when the company subdivided the land to develop the lots, each one became a taxable property.

The Yukon government assesses the price of lots and the city applies the taxes, but there is no consideration given to large development projects, like Titanium Way, which may take a long time to sell.

About half of the 49 lots in the commercial development have been sold, said Rich Thompson, president of Northern Vision. But it will still take another couple of years before it sells all of them.

In the meantime, as property taxes rise so do the costs of development.

“We saw a 40 per cent increase this year alone,” said Thompson. But that was on the back of some more substantial jumps.

“It adds up quickly,” he said.

Those costs just get tacked onto the final purchase price, which is contributing to the “skyrocketing price of commercial land within the city,” said Pillai.

“I think we have to look at some of these projects within the city, have a conversation with the Yukon government, and maybe put a hold on some of these rates so people can afford to put them up, because the end result is it just increases the cost for the commercial purchaser,” he said.

If Whitehorse wants to become a hub for the mining industry, private commercial developments, like Titanium Way, are a necessary element, he added.

“If you’re going to be the hub, you have to have land prepared and ready to go for sale in these service sector areas,” said Pillai.

“No one’s going to get land prepared and ready to go if they know, as soon as they subdivide it, they can be paying 300 per cent more.”

No one but the Yukon government.

The government can do it for less because when it develops vacant commissioner’s land, like in the Whistle Bend subdivision, the property isn’t titled and so it isn’t subject to municipal taxes.

Thompson said he isn’t under any illusions about how much sympathy Northern Vision is going to inspire.

“No one is going to shed a tear for us,” he said.

And he isn’t against paying property taxes.

Northern Vision owns lots on the waterfront where paying full property taxes is appropriate and that helps encourage development, said Thompson.

But the Titanium Way property, which was an unused treed lot before Northern Vision paved the road, developed the lots and brought in electricity, is another story, he said.

“Our issue is that the appropriate rationale does not exist when you’re in a development situation,” said Thompson.

“In a normal situation there would be a recognition that those lots are development lots, and that they would become appropriately taxed only when they become productive land … when they’re sold and put into productive use by someone who wants to build a building, or what have you.”

The Titanium Way property is more expensive than the average.

With the passage of the city’s operating and maintenance budget Monday, commercial property owners will see an annual increase of $843, bringing the average bill to $13,498 while the average homeowner will see a $29 increase on the average bill of $2,130.

Contact Josh Kerr at joshk@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate education advocates and volunteers help to sort and distribute Christmas hamper grocery boxes outside Elijah Smith Elementary School on Feb. 23. (Rebecca Bradford Andrew/Submitted)
First Nation Education Directorate begins Christmas hamper program

Pick-ups for hampers are scheduled at local schools

Cyrine Candido, cashier, right, wipes down the new plexi-glass dividers at Superstore on March 28, before it was commonplace for them to wear masks. The Yukon government is relaunching the Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program as the second wave of COVID-19 begins to take place in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program extended to 32 weeks

More than 100 businesses in the territory applied for the first phase of the program

City of Whitehorse staff will report back to city council members in three months, detailing where efforts are with the city’s wildfire risk reduction strategy and action plan for 2021 to 2024. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Council adopts wildfire risk reduction plan

Staff will report on progress in three months


Wyatt’s World for Nov. 25, 2020

Ivan, centre, and Tennette Dechkoff, right, stop to chat with a friend on Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. Starting Dec. 1 masks will be mandatory in public spaces across the Yukon in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Masks mandatory in public places starting on Dec. 1

“The safe six has just got a plus one,” Silver said.

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Keith Lay speaks at a city council meeting on Dec. 4, 2017. Lay provided the lone submission to council on the city’s proposed $33 million capital spending plan for 2021 on Nov. 23, taking issue with a number of projects outlined. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Resident raises issues with city’s capital budget

Council to vote on budget in December

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Most Read