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New property assessments bring relief for some Nova Scotians rebuilding after fire

The Property Valuation Services Corporation is applying a 15 per cent discount to Nova Scotia properties damaged or destroyed by fire in 2023. (Communications Nova Scotia - image credit)
The Property Valuation Services Corporation is applying a 15 per cent discount to Nova Scotia properties damaged or destroyed by fire in 2023. (Communications Nova Scotia - image credit)

People who lost their homes in the wildfires across Nova Scotia in 2023 could see a break on their property taxes this year.

Fisherman Kasey DeMings of Carleton Village, N.S., is among the more than 100 people whose property was damaged or destroyed in the Barrington Lake wildfire.

He's weeks away from his new prefab home being delivered in February. With just a foundation slab in place, he'll pay much less in property tax than usual.

"Every little bit counts right now," DeMings said Monday.

DeMings said his Shelburne County property assessment for this year is about $144,000 — down from an assessed value of $255,300 before the fire.

That will likely result in a saving on his tax bill from the Municipality of the District of Shelburne which was around $3,900 last year.

Kasey DeMings is a fisherman and volunteer firefighter who lost his own home in the Shelburne County wildfire in May.
Kasey DeMings is a fisherman and volunteer firefighter who lost his own home in the Shelburne County wildfire in May.

Kasey DeMings is a fisherman and volunteer firefighter who lost his own home in the Shelburne County wildfire in May 2023. (Shaina Luck/CBC)

"It's kind of a relief I guess, you know, for that to come in," DeMings said.

The Property Valuation Services Corporation (PVSC) said overall residential property values in the municipality rose to $717-million this year, up about 26 per cent over 2023.

Jeff Caddell, assistant director with PVSC, said officials usually calculate assessments based on a home's market value. But because there wasn't adequate information to calculate how the wildfires impacted Shelburne County and Upper Tantallon in Halifax, PVSC applied a 15 per cent discount to whatever the estimated market value for a property was as of Jan.1, 2023.

Then, Caddell said, they looked the state of each affected property as of Dec.1, 2023. That's why people like DeMings, who had an empty lot at the time, will see a far lower assessment.

Those affected by the fires also won't lose their assessment cap when they're done rebuilding —  like they usually would with new construction.

For example, Caddell said if there was a 20 per cent difference between the estimated market value of a home and a owner's capped assessment for 2023, they will keep that savings when they're done rebuilding.

Caddell said PVSC applied the same 15 per cent market discount to homes on the river side of Union Street in Bedford. The street is in a floodplain, and many homeowners saw major damage during the July floods.

"This is pretty unique to Nova Scotia to have areas of this size impacted by these events," Caddell said.

Anyone who feels their assessments are incorrect should appeal to PVSC by Feb. 8 by calling 1-800-380-7775 or emailing inquiry@pvsc.ca. Caddell said they have dedicated staff to handle appeals from those affected by fires and floods.

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