Seven-year-old Ryder McIntyre of Quispamsis has cerebral palsy and was thrilled when a road crew showed up at his house last summer and paved his family's gravel driveway for free so he could finally move around and play in his own yard.
"It's great," said Ryder's father, Tyler McIntyre.
"He can play on a flat space — not on the road and he can use his adaptive bicycle. It's a lot easier for him."
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Ryder was beaming when he posed for a picture on the new driveway after it was finished, but those good feelings dimmed last month when the family got caught up in the province's continuing property assessment scandal.
As neighbours around them got assessment decreases, the McIntyres were notified of a $50,900 increase in their property assessment and a 25 per cent increase in their tax bill.
"We were kind of anticipating a potential increase because of the driveway," said McIntyre.
"But everyone at my work was getting their tax assessment, and they were all dropping and I excitedly messaged my wife to see if ours was dropping, and she messaged me back that it went up by 50-plus thousand dollars and we owe $700 more this year in taxes."
Charity paved driveway for Ryder
McIntyre's home is one of the 2,048 homes that had their assessments rigged by Service New Brunswick to generate big tax increases.
Although the driveway cost $8,500, Service New Brunswick did not check those details and instead fabricated $30,410 in renovation costs on the McIntyre home to go along with another $20,490 in market value increases to justify the $50,900 assessment jump.
"I don't feel like I've been mistreated on purpose," McIntyre said.
"At first I thought someone struck a wrong key on their computer and this should get fixed, no problem But the more I read and listen to it, the larger it's getting."
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The McIntyres' new driveway was paid for by President's Choice Children's Charity after Ryder's physiotherapist encouraged the couple to make an application.
The gravel driveway was interfering with his ability to do simple things on his own, and the request was quickly funded.
"When it got wet it would get a little soupy and he would have a hard time moving around on it," McIntyre said. "We asked to have a driveway so he would be able to go from the stairs of our house to the bus independently with his wheelchair or walker."
The family has challenged the increase and received a notice that the case will be reviewed. The couple were also told they must pay the higher tax bill until informed otherwise.