B.C. township apologizes for selling man's property without letting him know
Township ordered to pay former landowner over $350,000 for auctioning off property without notice
The Okanagan township responsible for selling a man's property at a tax auction without any notice has issued a public apology, and says it's made "substantial changes" to its processes in the years since the sale.
Earlier this month, the Township of Spallumcheen in B.C.'s southern Interior was ordered to pay former landowner Anthony Morgan more than $350,000 for auctioning off his rural property without following its legal responsibilities to let him know about the 2017 sale or the steps necessary to prevent it.
In a statement posted online Wednesday, chief administrative officer Doug Allin said the township respects the court's decision.
"Since 2017, the Council of the Township of Spallumcheen has undertaken significant review of our processes and has instituted substantial changes, which has included changes to administration and changes in process, ensuring legislative requirements are met," Allin wrote.
"On behalf of the administration for the Township of Spallumcheen, we apologize for this regrettable situation."
Morgan owed about $6,700 in property taxes on his vacant lot just west of Armstrong when it was auctioned off in September 2017, according to a recent B.C. Supreme Court judgment.
Morgan had purchased the property for $160,000 in 2010, but its new owner paid just $11,300.
According to the terms of the Local Government Act, the township was required to notify Morgan of the sale and the fact that he had one year to pay the taxes he owed to redeem the property.
But that didn't happen, and Morgan only learned of the sale when it was too late, according to the court judgment.
Justice Gary Weatherill wrote that the township deserved to face "significant consequences" for what happened, and ordered it to pay damages equal to the March 2022 market value of the land — more than twice what Morgan had originally paid for it.