British Columbia

$1 and $2 property assessments confirm worst fears for residents of sinkhole-plagued B.C. neighbourhood

Former million dollar homes in the Sechelt oceanview neighbourhood of Seawatch are now confirmed worthless based on just-released values from B.C. Assessment.

Former million dollar oceanview homes in Sechelt now worthless according to B.C. Assessment

B.C. Assessment has pegged the value of this previously million-dollar-plus home and property at $2. The home is in the Seawatch neighbourhood of Sechelt, which was evacuated due to sinkholes. (B.C. Assessment)

Million dollar oceanview homes in a sinkhole-plagued area of Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast are now worth a toonie while nearby undeveloped plots that previously sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars are now valued at a mere loonie, according to B.C Assessement. 

The figures released Thursday are yet another blow to the already heartbroken residents of the Seawatch neighbourhood on the Sunshine Coast who were forced from their homes over 10 months ago when the district declared a local state of emergency because of unstable ground. 

"[The assessments] came largely as a surprise ... and as possible confirmation that their worst fears are true — that really their homes are worthless now," said lawyer Jeffrey Scouten, who is representing eight homeowners in legal claims against the district, province and developer.

Sinkholes have been a problem in the area for years but after a big one opened up on Christmas day in 2018, engineers determined there was an unacceptable risk to the public.

Sinkholes in the Seawatch neighbourhood have reduced the value of this oceanview property to $1. (B.C. Assessment)

In February 2019, residents of 14 homes were ordered evacuated and the street was designated a no-go zone, complete with concrete barriers and fences to keep people out.

Scouten says his clients have questions they'd like B.C. Assessment to answer, like why properties next door or across the street from evacuated homes received regular assessment values.

Rae-Dene Pednaud carts a load of belongings in a children's wagon from an evacuated Sechelt home in February, 2019. (Ed Pednaud)

"It's not like the geotechnical problems stop at some borderline ... so they're puzzled by that," he said.

Scouten believes the $1 and $2 assessments means his clients will no longer be required to pay property taxes on their unlivable homes, something they have continued to do because it's required by law.

"That's the silver lining to a very dark cloud," he said.

A local state of emergency was declared after engineers warned there was a risk to public safety when sinkholes appeared in the Seawatch neighbourhood. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)