Property taxes by city based on official median/typical assessment values

Simon Fraser University Professor Andrey Pavlov recently produced a graph with the bold claim that “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada”. The graph is based on multiplying MLS Detached Benchmark prices by the tax rate1)Prof. Pavlov’s methodology.

Cities don’t use MLS Detached Benchmark prices to calculate property taxes. Cities use assessed values from official assessment bodies. I spent the evening digging up the official assessment values for some of the cities in Prof. Pavlov’s graph. And here’s my graph.

 

My conclusion, based on official published data, is that Prof Pavlov’s claim “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada” is inaccurate.

Here’s my math.

City Reported Metric 2017 Assessment Property Tax Rate Property Taxes
Toronto Typical $596,750 6.62 $3,950
Ottawa Typical $419,363 10.68 $4,479
Vancouver Median $1,207,000 2.55 $3,078
Calgary Median $460,000 6.5 $2,990
Ease in Calculations 2012 2016 2017 Phase-in
Toronto $539,000 $770,000 $596,750
Ottawa $415,484 $431,000 $419,363

Here are my sources of data.

Toronto MPAC
Ottawa MPAC
Vancouver
Calgary City of Calgary
Property Tax Rates Altus Group

 

References   [ + ]

Lies, damned lies, and Prof. Pavlov’s “methodology”

Prof. Pavlov has finally published the “methodology”1)Prof. Pavlov’s methodology he used to arrive at the conclusion that “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada”. Before we examine the methodology, let’s get something out of the way: Prof. Pavlov’s conclusion that “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada” is a lie.

In his “methodology” he admits that, while he makes the claim that “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada,” his data is only for single family homes. The only conclusion that can be drawn from Prof. Pavlov’s “methodology” is “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada if we only consider single family homes.”

Would that conclusion be any more truthful?

No. That’s also a lie.

 

The City of Vancouver budget2)http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/vancouver-2018-budget.pdf shows that Vancouverites pay some of the lowest taxes even within the Lower Mainland. The A median single family home in Vancouver pays less tax and utilities than Surrey, Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond and a whole host of other municipalities.

One would’ve expected a professor teaching at Simon Fraser University to be mildly curious about property taxes in Burnaby. But I digress.

Now let’s focus on Prof. Pavlov’s methodology. The good professor says “Using single-family homes is appropriate. About 80 percent of Canadian home owners live in single-family homes.”

Prof. Pavlov offers no source for his claim “About 80 percent of Canadian home owners live in single-family homes”. I did some digging, and the only statistics I can find about different dwelling types is from Statistics Canada. According to the 2011 census3)https://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/famil55a-eng.htm, there were 13,320,610 households in Canada, out which 7,329,150 are single family homes. That’s 55 percent. I have no idea how Prof. Pavlov went from 55 percent to 80 percent. Until Prof. Pavlov provides a reliable source for his data, I’m going to file that under Prof. Pavlov’s Alternative Facts.

Update 1
A kind reader has provided me with the exact numbers for owner occupied properties by dwelling types. In Canada, out of 9,541,320 owner-occupied dwellings in the 2016 census, 6,858,540 (71.8%) were Single-detached houses4)Structural Type of Dwelling (10), Tenure (4), Condominium Status (3), Household Size (8) and Number of Bedrooms (6) for Private Households of Canada, Provinces and Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2016 Census – 25% Sample Data . That’s definitely not “about 80 percent”. In Vancouver, out of 612,010 owner-occupied dwellings in the 2016 census, 249,850 (40.8%) were Single-detached houses5)Structural Type of Dwelling (10), Tenure (4), Condominium Status (3), Household Size (8) and Number of Bedrooms (6) for Private Households of Canada, Provinces and Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2016 Census – 25% Sample Data. So, if Prof. Pavlov is trying to show that “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada,” he cannot conveniently ignore nearly 60 percent of the dwellings in the city.
End update

In conclusion, Prof. Pavlov’s original conclusion “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada” is a lie. The only conclusion that can be derived from his “methodology”, that “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada if we only consider single family homes,” is also a lie. The assertion of his methodology that “About 80 percent of Canadian home owners live in single-family homes.” has no basis in fact.

References   [ + ]

Prof Pavlov’s “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada” graph is a lie

Update II: Prof. Pavlov has finally published his materials and methods, almost a month after his graph was published. In the words of great scientist Carl Sagan “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, and Prof. Pavlov’s original graph was an extraordinary claim with an extraordinary lack of evidence. But I’m happy that he has finally made his methodology public, and, as promised, I’m updating my post.

However, I stand by the statement that Prof. Pavlov’s claim “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada” is a lie.

A graph produced by SFU Professor Andrey Pavlov that purports to show Vancouver as having the highest property taxes in Canada is doing the rounds on the Internet1)https://twitter.com/andrey_d_pavlov/status/996798250446286848. But as you can see from the tables below, Prof. Pavlov is comparing the property taxes for composite (all home types: detached, townhouses and condos) in Greater Toronto against the property taxes for single family homes in the City of Vancouver.

City Mill Rate from Altus (Pavlov’s Source) 2)Altus Group: Canadian Property Tax Rate Benchmark Report 2017 https://www.altusgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Canadian-Property-Tax-Rate-Benchmark-Report.pdf Property Tax indicated in Pavlov’s graph MLS Benchmark required to get Pavlov’s property tax figure
City of Toronto 6.62 5,032 $760,120.85
City of Vancouver 2.55 6,378 $2,501,176.47

 

Area Composite MLS Benchmark MLS Single Family Detached Benchmark
City of Toronto $830,500 $1,109,700
Greater Toronto $766,300 $927,800
City of Vancouver (East) 3)CREA provides MLS Benchmark values for City of Vancouver, but REBGV East Vancouver and West Vancouver separately. $1,114,000 $1,544,100
City of Vancouver (West) 4)CREA provides MLS Benchmark values for City of Vancouver, but REBGV East Vancouver and West Vancouver separately. $1,372,500 $3,404,200
Greater Vancouver $1,092,000 $1,605,800

Not only is Prof Pavlov comparing apples to oranges, he is outright lying by passing off benchmark prices for Greater Toronto as ones for the City of Toronto.

Prof. Pavlov’s erroneous graph has been used as the basis for a Vancouver Sun article5)http://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/elizabeth-murphy-b-c-taxes-need-a-second-look which, in turn is now being used by the opponent of BC NDP government’s housing reforms to attack those much needed reforms6)https://twitter.com/search?q=http%3A%2F%2Fvancouversun.com%2Fopinion%2Fop-ed%2Felizabeth-murphy-b-c-taxes-need-a-second-look&src=typd. Even the BC Liberals7)https://twitter.com/bcliberals/status/1000852543705006080 are tweeting Prof. Pavlov’s mendacious graph.

In the era of fake news, the public look up to academia in their search for truth. I find it disturbing and unacceptable that Prof. Pavlov has chosen to disseminate false information. Prof. Pavlov’s steadfast refusal to offer an apology and issue a correction even after being called8)https://mobile.twitter.com/1alexhemingway/status/1000246334975131648 out on his falsehoods further seek to not only diminish the credibility of Simon Fraser University, but it also undermines people’s trust in academia as a whole.

Update: Alex Hemingway, whom I cited earlier in the article, has kindly informed me that depending on how Prof. Pavlov calculated the Toronto four year average “current assessed value”, the figures used in the graph may indeed be for single family homes. Based on data obtained from sources Prof. Pavlov has mentioned, I’m unable to reproduce the good professor’s math.

If Prof. Pavlov were to reveal his materials and methods, I will be happy to update my post.

Even if Prof. Pavlov were doing an apples to apples comparison, his “City of Vancouver currently has the highest property taxes in Canada” graph is still a lie, as he does not mention anywhere on the graph that he is only using single family home benchmark values in his calculations. Even if all his numbers are correct, all that his graph shows is that “City of Vancouver may have the highest property taxes in Canada if you only consider the most expensive segment of the market.”

References   [ + ]

1. https://twitter.com/andrey_d_pavlov/status/996798250446286848
2. Altus Group: Canadian Property Tax Rate Benchmark Report 2017 https://www.altusgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Canadian-Property-Tax-Rate-Benchmark-Report.pdf
3, 4. CREA provides MLS Benchmark values for City of Vancouver, but REBGV East Vancouver and West Vancouver separately.
5. http://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/elizabeth-murphy-b-c-taxes-need-a-second-look
6. https://twitter.com/search?q=http%3A%2F%2Fvancouversun.com%2Fopinion%2Fop-ed%2Felizabeth-murphy-b-c-taxes-need-a-second-look&src=typd
7. https://twitter.com/bcliberals/status/1000852543705006080
8. https://mobile.twitter.com/1alexhemingway/status/1000246334975131648

Dear RCMP, Please investigate W. Brett Wilson for offering to pay BC NDP MLAs to cross the floor

Deputy Commissioner Brenda Butterworth-Carr
Commanding Officer
BC RCMP
14200 Green Timbers Way
Surrey BC V3T 6P3

2018 May 20

Dear Madam,

Please investigate W. Brett Wilson for offering to pay BC NDP MLAs to cross the floor

On or about 2018 May 19, Calgary, Alberta-based businessmen W. Brett Wilson tweeted the following (please see attachment for the complete tweet)1)https://twitter.com/WBrettWilson/status/997836348739354624 (archived: http://archive.is/awL6D):

Idea – am thinking we should just pay a couple of folks from #PremierHorgan @NDP teamto cross the floor & give power back to the people of #BritishColumbia

I am in for $10,000. Should almost be enough eh? DM me to arrange.

This is a plain and obvious conspiracy to violate Section 119 of the Criminal Code, which states:

Bribery of judicial officers, etc.
119 (1) Every one is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years who

(a) being the holder of a judicial office, or being a member of Parliament or of the legislature of a province, directly or indirectly, corruptly accepts, obtains, agrees to accept or attempts to obtain, for themselves or another person, any money, valuable consideration, office, place or employment in respect of anything done or omitted or to be done or omitted by them in their official capacity, or

(b) directly or indirectly, corruptly gives or offers to a person mentioned in paragraph (a), or to anyone for the benefit of that person, any money, valuable consideration, office, place or employment in respect of anything done or omitted or to be done or omitted by that person in their official capacity.

I humbly request you to investigate Mr. Wilson’s tweet and take appropriate actions to bring Mr. Wilson to justice.

Thank you,

Rohana Rezel

References   [ + ]

1. https://twitter.com/WBrettWilson/status/997836348739354624 (archived: http://archive.is/awL6D)

Complaint against Sutton West Coast over the disruption of AG David Eby’s town hall

I’ve just filed a complaint against Sutton West Coast over the part they played in disrupting BC Attorney General David Eby’s town hall.

Here’s the full text of my complaint:

  1. Sutton Group West Coast Realty (“Sutton West Coast”) took out a full page advertisement on Vancouver Courier newspaper published on or about 2018 April 28 urging supporters to disrupt Attorney General David Eby’s planned town hall with his constituents.
  2. This advertisement, and similar call by BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, forced Mr. Eby to cancel the event owing to security reasons.
  3. The wording of the call for action in Sutton West Coast’s advertisement was “Regardless of whether or not the Hall is full, demonstrate your opposition to these taxes and make your voice heard by attending:” followed by details of Mr. Eby’ town hall. The “Regardless of whether or not the Hall is full” was underlined in the original advertisement.
  4. Similarly, Mr. Wilkinson, urged his supporters to protest at Mr. Eby’s town hall “whether you have a ticket or not”.
  5. An elected MLA has a duty to meet with his or her constituents. In turn, the constituents have a right to meet their MLA. Sutton West Coast’s advertisement, singularly or in conjunction with Mr. Wilkinson’s letter, amounts to a deliberate disruption of the democratic process. It deprives the constituents of their democratic rights, and prevents an elected official from carrying out their democratic duties.
  6. Section 35(2) of the Real Estate Services Act states :
    A licensee commits conduct unbecoming a licensee if the licensee engages in conduct that, in the judgment of a discipline committee,
    (a) is contrary to the best interests of the public,

    (b) undermines public confidence in the real estate industry, or

    (c) brings the real estate industry into disrepute.
  7. It is plain and obvious that Sutton West Coast has violated Section 35(2) of the Real Estate Service Act as inciting mobs to sabotage a democratic process is contrary to the best interests of the public, undermines public confidence in the real estate industry, and brings the real estate industry into disrepute.
  8. Candice Dyer is named as the managing broker of Sutton West Coast.
  9. Section 6 (2) of the Act states:
    A managing broker licensed in relation to a brokerage acts for the brokerage for all purposes under this Act, and is responsible for

    (c) the control and conduct of the brokerage’s real estate business, including supervision of the associate brokers and representatives who are licensed in relation to the brokerage.
  10. Therefore, Ms. Dyer is named as the licensee against whom the complaint is made.

Letter to Andrew Wilkinson: Please don’t incite violence against political opponents

Andrew Wilkinson, MLA
Leader of the Official Opposition
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC
V8V 1X4

2018 May 01

Please don’t incite violence against political opponents

Dear Mr. Wilkinson,

I’m greatly alarmed to learn that you have recently incited mob violence against British Columbia Attorney General David Eby, forcing him to cancel a planned town hall on the speculation tax. Your conduct is both undemocratic, and unbecoming of a person of your intellect, calibre and stature.

Fom Mussolini to Mugabe, intimidating one’s political opponents through violence is a depraved tactic only the most despotic dictators have engaged in. And history has shown us that once politicians divide societies by means of violent polarization, they send those societies down a path of certain ruin. Is that what you want for British Columbia?

While I’m aware that you have made a career of representing big tobacco1)https://thinkpol.ca/2018/02/05/bc-liberal-leader-batted-big-tobacco-bc/ and corrupt businessmen from China2)https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/new-bc-liberal-candidate-has-ties-to-shuttered-pulp-mill/article8798196/ against BC, I want to believe that you did so for the money, and not out of some deep rooted hatred towards your fellow British Columbians.

I, like you, am an immigrant to Canada. I learned while studying for my citizenship test that the role of the opposition in a parliamentary democracy is to “peacefully oppose or try to improve government proposals.”3)https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/discover-canada/read-online/federal-elections.html(Emphasis Mine.)

A town hall is one of the most inclusive forms of democratic discourse. By inciting mobs to violently disrupt a town hall, not only are you compromising the safety and security of an elected official and civilians who wish to engage with him, you’re also undermining our democratic institutions.

I urge you: stop. Stop inciting violence. Take the honourable path and restore civility by apologizing to Mr. Eby and asking your supporters to refrain from violence.

Thank you,

Rohana Rezel

References   [ + ]

1. https://thinkpol.ca/2018/02/05/bc-liberal-leader-batted-big-tobacco-bc/
2. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/new-bc-liberal-candidate-has-ties-to-shuttered-pulp-mill/article8798196/
3. https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/discover-canada/read-online/federal-elections.html