Stewart: Elected officials work for you

For many people, the start of a new year is a time to reflect on what did and did not go well in the previous 12 months.

For many people, the start of a new year is a time to reflect on what did and did not go well in the previous 12 months, as with New Year’s resolutions comes the chance to start anew.

You might call it a period of assessment. But for property owners, New Year’s assessment means something rather more literal.

Some time ago, I was approached by the West Kelowna Residents’ Association about concerns they had with their assessed property values and the organization that does this, the B.C. Assessment.

The WKRA studied the assessment of properties over a two year period and believed the assessments were not consistent within their neighbourhood.

BCA has a national and even international reputation as one of the most-respected property assessment bureaus in North America.

I asked WKRA for more details, and received a comprehensive package, which included analytical information on neighbourhoods, specific cases and lakefront properties.

WKRA established a committee in 2010 to look at property assessments in the District of West Kelowna to do this work.

I’m not an expert on property assessment, so I approached BCA’s office in Kelowna and asked them to prepare an analysis and response to WKRA’s study.

But because WKRA were concerned about fairness, I didn’t want BCA to simply respond; it would be much better to meet face-to-face.

BCA agreed, and hosted two meetings in June and November with myself, the WKRA, and the District of West Kelowna.

The BCA described—in full detail—the process used to assess properties, not just in West Kelowna, but across the province.

It’s amazingly in-depth, and I won’t go into significant detail here; if you’re interested, BCA’s website is very informative.

While they did not agree with all the BCA’s findings, the WKRA members accepted the statistical standards used are in fact more demanding than accepted international requirements.

They were “satisfied” with the responses from the BCA and myself—and I’m sure are anxiously awaiting their 2012 assessments, coming in January.

BCA and WKRA will continue this cooperative working relationship in 2012 should there be any concerns.

Of course, if you don’t own a home or even live in West Kelowna, you might ask yourself why this affects or should interest you. Perhaps it doesn’t.

But this story is a nice capsule of the role elected officials can play.

From town and city councillors and mayors, to MLAs, and your Members of Parliament in Ottawa, it’s important to remember these people were elected to help and serve their constituents.

Please don’t be shy or hesitant about reaching out to them, including myself.

Most MLAs and MPs host open houses, and even if you can’t make it, they have staff to guide you along the way.

No matter where you live, I wish you nothing but the best this holiday season.

Ben Stewart is the Liberal MLA for Westside-Kelowna.



Kelowna Capital News