Biggest tax sale in town’s history

Trent Ernst, Editor


59 houses, condos and trailers were on the auction block at what is most certainly the largest tax sale in the town’s history.

Compare this to the 2001 tax sale, when only five houses were listed. Or to the surrounding communities. Dawson Creek had seven properties listed before the sale, while Chetwynd had three.

It was also one of the most well attended events held at town hall in recent memory, with well over 50 people crowding the Council Chambers and spilling out the door.

A property that has three years of taxes due can be auctioned off by the District in a tax sale. Community members can come and bid on the properties in question. Property owners have until 10 am on the last Monday of September, the date set by legislation for tax sales, to come in and pay taxes owing, and indeed, two people came in that morning to pay their taxes.

Each property has a base (upset) price that acts as the minimum acceptable bid for that property. The upset price is determined by the amount of taxes owing, plus administration and land title fees. Once a successful bid has been accepted, the successful bidder has until 2 pm that day to secure funding. If that person is unable to pay in full, the property is resold the next day.

And, once a person has successfully bid upon a property, they do not take ownership of it at that time. Instead, the registered owner has one year to come in and pay the taxes on the property.

Of the 59 properties, 30 were not bid on and two did not receive payment before 2 pm in the afternoon. These two properties were put on the block again the next day, but received no bids. All 32 properties default to the District.

Why so many properties? There were actually only 12 properties up for tax sale, but one, 360 Northgate, is a strata unit, so each unit had to be auctioned off separately.

The highest bid on the day was $18,000 for a house that had an upset price of $7,396.79. A second house went for $17,000, nearly $10,000 over its upset price.

As expected, the most heated bidding came around the handful of houses listed. Trailers were the second most popular item, most going for more than their upset price, some as much as double that.

On the other hand, most of the apartments that came up for tax sale either reverted to the District, or went for their upset price. Only a handful—the lowest priced apartments—had any bidding at all.

In the end, 27 properties were auctioned off, though how many of those will still be under new ownership in a year is anyone’s guess.