The experts have long been predicting a correction is coming for Greater Vancouver's real estate market, but this is ridiculous.
The recent decision by the provincial Property Assessment Appeal Board to drop the value of the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal in West Vancouver to just 20 bucks is absolutely mind-boggling.
It's also worrisome given the same thinking could be used early next year should B.C. Ferries appeal the assessment of the Tsawwassen ferry terminal. And you better believe the ferry corporation is going to launch an appeal, given it could wipe out a tax bill of almost $700,000 if it's successful.
I can accept the notion that it's difficult to establish a value for some properties and structures because they're unique, one-off types of operations. There aren't a lot of comparables, so it's hard to say whether a ferry terminal is worth $20 million or $50 million or even $100 million.
What I do know is that it's worth a heck of a lot more than $20. It's also readily apparent that a ferry terminal puts far more strain on civic services than a $20 piece of property, should you be able to find such a thing.
The bizarre ruling is based on the grounds that the property has no market value because it has no purpose other than as a ferry terminal and there is no potential for profit. Say what?
Since when did the ferry corporation's bottom line factor into what it should pay for municipal services like police and fire protection? And regardless of any lease restrictions, you can't get past the fact it's still one prime piece of waterfront real estate, a property that would hit the open market with a lot more than just one zero in the asking price.
Surely the courts aren't going to let this ruling stand and allow B.C. Ferries to freeload off taxpayers in all communities that house terminals. It's one thing to put up with ferry traffic but it's quite another for all other property owners to dig into their own pockets to pay for the privilege.
The $20 valuation for the Horseshoe Bay terminal seems so absurd it's hard to believe it will withstand any kind of reasonable review. That's certainly the hope of the District of West Vancouver, which is challenging the ruling because it stands to lose $250,000 annually if the decision stands.
Delta has got even more at stake, so one can only hope the next entity to adjudicate this curious situation adopts a more, shall we say, realistic point of view.