British Columbia

Value of tiny lot in East Vancouver skyrockets 3,431% in 1 year, according to B.C. Assessment

The tiny lot at 1916 William Street went from an assessed value of $4,900 in 2021 to $173,000 in 2022.

The not-so-average valuation is for a not-so-average tiny lot that measures 9 feet by 60 feet

The newer fence shows the frontage of the nine-foot-wide lot at 1916 William Street. The assessed value of the tiny lot went up 3,431 per cent, from $4,900 in 2021 to $173,000 in 2022. (Karin Larsen/CBC)

While most Vancouver property values increased by an average of 11 per cent the last year, a lot in East Vancouver went up many times that amount — 3,431 per cent to be exact, according to B.C. Assessment figures published earlier this month.

The not-so-average change in valuation is for a not-so-average property.

Easily mistaken for someone's neglected driveway, 1916 William St. is just nine feet across and 60 feet long, a fraction of the size of most lots in its Grandview-Woodlands neighbourhood.

In 2021, B.C. Assessment pegged the value of the tiny lot at $4,900. But according to the 2022 assessment it's now worth $173,000.

"When the assessment showed up ... I thought, what the heck is going on," said Bryn Davidson, co-owner of Lanefab, the company that owns the lot.

"The assessment is totally divorced from any reality as far as [any development] the city will currently allow. I think it's just such an odd duck that it was probably somebody throwing a dart at a board on the wall and seeing where it hit."

B.C. Assessment's deputy assessor for the Fraser Valley Region said details specific to 1916 William Street can't be discussed until April when the assessment appeals period is over.

Bryan Murao did say that sales activity drives changes in assessments, and that big price swings make it tricky for assessors, especially when it comes to odd, outlier properties. 

The William Street tiny lot sold in July 2020 for $88,000, and was resold to Lanefab for almost two and half times the price — $210,000 — 11 months later. 

2022 B.C. Assessement for 1916 William St. (B.C. Assessment)

"What we don't necessarily do is assess speculative development potential if it's based on very low percentage odds," said Murao.

"The one-off situations that might require special council approval or development variance permits ... creates a lot of uncertainty where you're getting into an under-50-per-cent chance that the property will actually develop into something."

Davidson said his company bought the property with hopes of designing and building on it using their small space expertise.

But so far, city officials say it can only be developed if combined with one of the much larger lots on either side. 

Last year, the city ordered the removal of a portable office pod the company was constructing at the site. The property is now being used as storage space. 

Davidson said he is considering a bunch of ideas for the future of 1916 William St.

He's spoken to the people redeveloping the property to the west to see if they have an interest in it. He said he'd also consider selling to the city to develop a pocket park. 

"We've been contemplating if we could do some kind of public art project. I don't know, it feels like it's a chance to do something interesting, but maybe if anybody has any ideas we could entertain them." 


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