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Unpaid back taxes could force sale of several TLC properties

Jul 31 2012
Properties owned by The Land Conservancy of B.C., including the campground adjacent to Sooke Potholes Provincial Park, above, could be sold if TLC can’t afford to pay outstanding back taxes. 

Properties owned by The Land Conservancy of B.C., including the campground adjacent to Sooke Potholes Provincial Park, above, could be sold if TLC can’t afford to pay outstanding back taxes.

Photograph by: Bruce Stotesbury , timescolonist.com


The Land Conservancy owes three years of back taxes on at least two Greater Victoria properties, meaning the land could be put up in tax sales this fall.

A total of about $56,000 is owed for the TLC's three properties on Sooke River Road adjacent to Sooke Potholes Provincial Park, including $4,000 from 2010.

Almost $44,000 is owed on Second Lake in the Highlands, with about $650 dating back to 2010.

Under existing legislation, if property taxes are not paid in full for three years, the property is put up for a tax sale, but owners then have another year to pay the taxes and redeem the property before general bids are opened.

"So this property could come up for a tax sale at the end of September 2012, but the TLC would still have until 2013 to pay the taxes," said Dave Gawley, Sooke acting director of finance.

"It does mean our cash management is deficient," he said.

If delinquent taxes from 2010 are paid before September, that would avert the tax sale. However, after that date, the entire $56,000 would have to be paid.

Sooke Mayor Wendal Milne said the Sooke Potholes properties — which include the campground adjacent to the park — are crucial to Sooke.

"I hope [TLC] can find a way to get themselves out of this difficulty. They have done some really good things, and it would sure be difficult for everyone concerned if those properties had to be sold," he said.

The amount TLC owes in taxes on Victoria and Saanich properties appears to be minimal, with $570 in taxes and penalties due on Madrona Farm and less than

$400 in taxes and utilities on

Abkhazi Garden.

Ross Bay Villa is exempt from property taxes, as are some other properties, but $862 is owing on frontage tax and utilities.

TLC board chairman Alastair Craighead could not be reached Monday.

TLC is facing a financial crisis. Meetings are being held this week with supporters and creditors as part of the non-profit organization's overhaul of its finances.

A letter sent to TLC creditors, signed by Craighead, asks for patience as the organization works through tough times and says the group is committed to paying every penny of its debts.

However, creditors are also asked if they could forgive a portion of the debt or make a donation to TLC.

"It would be a very welcome boost at this time and it would mean so much," the letter says.

Part of the problem is general economic turmoil, but TLC also accepts responsibility for "accruing an unacceptable backlog in short-term commitments and payables," Craighead wrote, acknowledging that the conservancy has to change its approach to regain the public's trust.

jlavoie@timescolonist.com

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