Updated: Dec 14, 2021
There is an update to this story
The ordered sale of the home belonging to a 60 year old Penticton woman, described as being "a vulnerable person", to recover $10,000 in overdue taxes, has resulted in calls for compensation and law reform from the Ombudsperson of British Columbia (OBC).
A report written by the OBC titled "A Bid For Fairness" details how 60 year old Ms Wilson, not her real name, had her home sold at a tax sale auction for $150,000 dollars, when, according to the OBC report, its fair market value at the time was assessed at $420,000.
The OBC report says even though Ms Wilson had the funds she "had personal challenges that made it difficult for her to pay her $10,000 tax bill".
“The results of this investigation are disturbing,” said Ombudsperson Jay Chalke. “Ms. Wilson was a vulnerable member of the Penticton community and just needed some extra assistance to pay her taxes. The City of Penticton called Ms. Wilson once but did not contact the Public Guardian and Trustee or Interior Health who have the legal mandate to make inquiries as to whether an adult is vulnerable and needs support or assistance. The city’s failure to reach out to one of these helping organizations contributed to a devastating and preventable loss.”
The OBC report makes six recommendations, five to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and one to the City of Penticton.
One of the recommendations is for Penticton to compensate Ms Wilson in the amount of $140,922.88.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs has accepted all five recommendations. The City of Penticton has rejected the Ombudsperson’s recommendation.
You can find the Ombudsperson of British Columbia report and recommendations here
The City of Penticton has reportedly taken issue with the OBC report.
Penticton City CAO Donny van Dyk is quoted as saying:
“We were disappointed that the Ombudsperson chose not to include our complete and detailed response to the recommendations in the report, particularly information that does not support the Ombudsperson’s conclusions,”
“City staff were unaware that Ms. Wilson was a vulnerable person in need of support or assistance until after the conclusion of the tax sale process,”
It remains to be seen how this will play out in the court of public opinion.