Township of Spallumcheen officials say they’ve made changes and undertaken a fulsome review of their administrative processes, following a B.C. Supreme Court decision that ordered the township to pay more than $350,000 in damages to a resident.
Anthony Morgan won a legal battle against the township after his property on Round Lake Road was sold by the township in a 2017 tax sale, but failed to notify him as required by the Local Government Act.
Morgan had purchased the nine acres of land in 2011 and had planned to build a home and workshop on it, but he had fallen into arrears and owed about $7,680 in unpaid property taxes and penalties at the time of the sale.
Selling land in a tax sale is a legitimate means for municipalities to recoup unpaid taxes after a certain point in time, but municipalities are required to follow a set of procedures, one of which is to notify the owner before the end of the redemption period — or the point at which the sale can no longer be reversed.
According to the Supreme Court decision rendered May 6, the township erred by failing to notify Morgan about the tax sale before the end of the redemption period, which the township had attempted to extend, but unsuccessfully.
In a press release issued Wednesday, May 11, Spallumcheen CAO Doug Allin said the township respects the Supreme Court’s decision and is taking steps to ensure a similar mistake doesn’t happen again.
“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 said.
“The Township insurer, Municipal Insurance Association of BC, has provided legal direction and oversight throughout this process to ensure a fair outcome on behalf of the corporation.”
The release closes with an apology on behalf of township administration for “this regrettable situation.”