'It's a perfect storm of discontent:' flood-ravaged Willowbrook, B.C., residents hit with whopping tax hikes
Mary and Roger Maccullough built their dream retirement home in the tiny idyllic hamlet of Willowbrook, near Penticton.
Now they wonder if they are going to be able to afford to stay.
“This year, we got a notice, almost 200 per cent increase in our property taxes,” Maccullough said on Tuesday. “I could not believe it.”
This year’s tax bill doubled compared to last.
The biggest increase is to fire protection. The line item jumped from under $800 last year to more than $2,500 this year.
Most of the fire protection tax increases will go towards training and upgrades at the Willowbrook Fire Department.
The volunteer fire department at Willowbrook, B.C.Shelby Thom / Global News
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen area director Terry Schafer said it is a downloading of costs from the province.
“It seems like quite an anomaly, so it’s something I have to dig into,” he said.
Maccullough said it’s a substantial increase to absorb in one year.
“We’re both retired, we’re on a set income, so there’s going to be some consequences here.”
The whopping tax increases hit the small community hard.
Already besieged by floodwaters and rising water bills despite two years under a boil water notice, some residents question the viability of living in Willowbrook.
“It’s a perfect storm of discontent,” Schafer said.
“When they’re going to have their financial tax increases, I think they should have a town hall meeting and have all of the citizens involved so they know exactly what is going to happen to them,” said Willowbrook resident Dianne Crittenden, “instead of getting slapped in the face and getting bills such as this.”
“People just can’t afford them up here,” added resident Annette McLean.
While local politicians try to find a balance between sustainability and affordability, some residents propose another solution.
“I’m thinking about putting a for sale sign up at my place,” said homeowner Kelly Riome.