Waterfront property evaluations out of control

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Allyson Beauregard

CAMPBELL’S BAY – Kathryn Dupuis and Linda Gougeon, both owners of waterfront properties in Mansfield, attended the Council of Mayors meeting, March 24, to express their discontent with the evaluations of their properties for the 2015 tax roll.
Dupuis and Gougeon described their situations as well as those of others; one property owner’s

Allyson Beauregard

CAMPBELL’S BAY – Kathryn Dupuis and Linda Gougeon, both owners of waterfront properties in Mansfield, attended the Council of Mayors meeting, March 24, to express their discontent with the evaluations of their properties for the 2015 tax roll.
Dupuis and Gougeon described their situations as well as those of others; one property owner’s
evaluation increased from $54,000 in 2011 to $140,000 over the last two rolls and another owner, whose property is too small to build on, witnessed an increase from $19,000 to $56,000. “The evaluation of our land has increased by an average of 50%, which does not reflect the market values of our properties, the socio-economic realities of the region, the constant battle to maintain the river’s edge, nor the actual utilization of these properties,” said Dupuis, who spoke on behalf of over 50 other people in similar situations.
Dupuis explained that many property owners intend to request a review: “A request for review will cost land owners about $75 each, depending on where they are located, and the MRC Pontiac $200 for each request submitted.”
Aside from asking the MRC Pontiac to adopt a resolution requesting that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs provide solutions to stop rising waterfront evaluations, the group
represented by Gougeon and Dupuis suggested the MRC assess the credibility of the evaluations
completed by Groupe Servitech for the 2015 tax roll; the company was awarded a new five year contract by the MRC Pontiac on March 10. Dupuis referenced an article published in Le Droit (“Citoyens mécontents des hausses d`évaulation fonciere” – August 19, 2010) where Servitech’s work was called into
question.
In an information booklet handed out to the Council of Mayors, the group of displeased property owners provided a lengthy list of arguments why their property evaluations are unfair and unreasonable, including lack of water or septic service, location in a flood zone, lack of industries in the area, the low socio-economic context, and more.
One of the group’s main arguments was the discrepancy between the value placed on waterfront properties and what they can be realistically sold for. “Exorbitant tax increases prevent property owners from retaining their properties and reduces their ability to pay their property taxes. The first thing a potential buyer asks about is the taxes,” said Dupuis and Gougeon.
“Prohibitive taxes discourage potential buyers and there is no market for cottage properties because it is too expensive to maintain two properties or live on the river’s edge permanently. The evaluations are exorbitant in comparison to the real market price,” they concluded.
The women requested a written response addressing the issues raised.

Waterfront owners
not alone
Those owning bush lots have also experienced
substantial increases in their property evaluations. One Litchfield bush lot owner, with two properties, both about 135 acres in size, saw his evaluations jump from $38,000 to $90,000 and $20,000 to $60,000 since 2012.    
Many argue the price tag placed on their
properties does not reflect their actual value since the demand for bush lot
properties has significantly declined over the years, and the low price offered for timber discourages
logging operations.