Don’t negotiate! Expropriate!


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Turpin Laboratories has determined that the $6 million reportedly demanded for private lands within Halifax’s Blue Mountain–Birch Cove Lakes Regional Park is outrageous.

“It’s whack-a-doodle,” says Bill Turpin,  the Turpin Labs CEO. “If they’re only paying taxes on a $2.4 million assessment,  how can they claim it’s worth $6 million? Maybe they’re paying a special, extra-high tax rates. I dunno.”

In 2008, when the joint provincial/municipal BMBC project became general knowledge, the assessment was even lower — about $2,017,000. (Caveat: both totals are subject to small variations because they do not include small slices of private lots that need to be acquired, and assessments for three lots did not go back as far as 2008.)

Both assessments come from the Property Valuation Services Corporation, which is the same outfit that also assesses homes. Halifax staff think it’s worth about $2.8 million, which is generous.

Interestingly, the total value of the land — owned by the Annapolis Group and the Stevens Group — has increased by 20 per cent in the past eight years, whereas the assessment for the Turpin Laboratories estate in the North End of Halifax has increased by 32 per cent. According to our forestry director, Celestia, the lower gains by the undeveloped land is because “trees don’t have any value until you cut them down.”

In any case, the PVSC says its assessments reflect the true market value: “Nova Scotia property assessments are determined by highly professional and experienced PVSC assessors. Our assessors are trained to value all types of property. 

We assess properties at market value, which is the amount, you, a willing seller, would receive for your property if it were purchased from a willing buyer on the open market … “

There you have it. Argument over, right? Haligonians pay a hefty $2.4 million and we get the land for our park, where trees will remain in place, thus depressing the property value. But it appears that Annapolis and Stevens are not “willingto sell at that price even though, barring the something truly exceptional, it’s the assessment they have been paying taxes on. You can’t have it both ways.

The reason these landowners can even contemplate demanding the $6 million is that pressure to buy the area has been building on Council and staff ever the BMBC project became public. The easy way for Council to get on with their lives would be to pay more than the land is worth. Lots more.

But the money belongs to us, not Council. What are we to do? 

Well, for once, we have the hammer. For once, we get to tell the big boys what to do. Or, as we say here at Turpin Labs: “Don’t negotiate! Expropriate!”

And we pay the lower valuation set in 2008. Why? Because we can, and we’re annoyed with these landowners. 

Don’t be squeamish about this, Haligonians. Expropriation happens all the time, but usually to “ordinary” people.

Detailed assessment information is below. If you punch the “PID” number into, you’ll see where each lot is and its assessment history. In Many cases, you can also see Viewpoint’s estimate of their tax bill, e.g., $6,244 for PID 00339598.

PID OWNER Assessment 2008 Assessment Current
00339598 Annapolis  $429,000  $516,000
40725897 Annapolis  $254,500  $332,400
41120577 Annapolis  $233,000  $302,100
40420747 Annapolis  $267,300  $231,500
41269853 Annapolis  $117,200  $134,300
41269879 Annapolis  $47,200  $85,300
41269861 Annapolis  $26,600  $50,700
41365156 Annapolis  $37,100  $37,100
41269929 Annapolis  $29,500  $27,600
41365131 Annapolis  $21,300  $21,300
41269911 Annapolis  $21,900  $17,600
41358086 Annapolis  $1,100  $1,100
40806200 Stevens Group  $498,700  $622,400
40806218 Stevens Group  $26,400  $32,600
40420788 Stevens Group  $6,600  $6,600
  Annapolis  $1,485,700  $1,757,000
  Stevens  $531,700  $661,600
  Grand Total  $2,017,400  $2,418,600