Westboro curling club between a rock and a hard place as property taxes triple
Granite Curling Club of West Ottawa concerned rising fees will mean fewer members
Members of an Ottawa curling club say they're concerned for its future after it was slapped with a property tax increase of more than 200 per cent.
A property assessment of the Granite Curling Club of West Ottawa made last year valued the Scott Street property at nearly $2.5 million, up from about $800,000 the last time it was assessed in 2012.
The question is, are we going to lose members as a result? Will it cause them to look at other clubs?- Steve Hindle, past president
The latest assessment means the club's property taxes will jump from approximately $8,000 to nearly $25,000 per year.
Members say that's putting the non-profit club, which operates on a break-even basis, in a difficult position.
"We're caught between a curling rock and a hard place," said Geoff Wilson, the club's treasurer and longtime member.
The conundrum is keeping the club's volunteer executive busy this summer — normally the off season for curlers — as they try to figure out how to handle the increase.
Higher tax, higher fees
The tax increase means an unavoidable surge in member fees, according to past president Steve Hindle.
Hindle said the tax hike will result in a $35 increase in annual fees for each of the club's roughly 600 members.
The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) evaluates properties every four years. MPAC's assessments determine the municipal property taxes paid by property owners.
Board members suspect the Granite Curling Club's dramatic increase in value is due not only to rising home prices in Westboro, but also to the forthcoming light rail line.
"It's clear that the value of property in the Westboro area is escalating because we are directly across from what will be a brand new light rail transit station opening in 2023," said Wilson.
Request for reconsideration
The club has hired property tax specialist Glenn Lucas to file a request for reconsideration with MPAC, which has until November to respond.
Lucas believes the club has a strong case because of its uniqueness in the neighbourhood.
"Essentially, the assessment system doesn't take into consideration specific zoning issues with properties, and this one has a specific zoning issue. Which means it can't be developed the same way as other properties around it can be."
Lucas said it's possible the club is facing such a dramatic increase in assessed value because it's been overlooked.
"We have seen significant jumps in properties every assessment cycle. And quite often what it will mean is that a property, or an area, has been forgotten for a long period of time," he says.
Club members have also reached out to the city in the hope of finding some way to reduce their tax burden.
Wilson said most members will be able to afford this increase, but he's worried future assessments could jeopardize the club's future.
"We can handle this property tax increase at the present time," he said. "But we're nervous about further escalations."