Penticton vs BC's Ombudsperson?

Updated: Dec 15, 2021


There is an update to this story: https://www.exnews.net/post/pentictonmayorjohnvassilakiapologizestoms-wilson-video



The city of Penticton has scheduled a special in-camera council meeting for 9 am on December 14th. On the agenda:


(g) litigation or potential litigation affecting the municipality;

Section 90 (2) (c) a matter that is being investigated under the ombudsperson act of which the municipality has been notified under section 14 [Ombudsperson to notify authority] of that Act.


Is there a connection to last week's report from BC Ombudsperson Jay Chalke? We don't know.


Last week the BC Ombudsperson published a report criticizing the City of Penticton's handling of a case involving the sale of a 60-year-old woman's home to pay $10,000 in overdue city tax.


The home was sold for $150,000 at auction. At the time it was assessed at $420,000. The woman lost an estimated $270,000 worth of equity in her home.


The Ombudsperson made 6 recommendations in the report.


Wednesday, December 8, 2021:


A Bid For Fairness details the case of Ms. Wilson, a vulnerable 60-year-old woman, who failed to pay her property taxes due to personal challenges and ended up losing her home.


The report makes six recommendations – five to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and one to the City of Penticton. Specifically:


1 - Develop plain language template letters for tax sales;

2 - Develop guidelines to notify a property owner before a tax sale occurs;

3 - Amend the Local Government Act to require a municipality to provide notice by registered mail or personal service before a tax sale;

4 - Examine whether the Local Government Act should establish a starting price at auction that reflects the assessed value of a property;

5 - Issue best practice guidelines about how municipalities are to protect vulnerable property owners within the tax sale scheme; and,

6 - Compensate Ms. Wilson in the amount of $140,922.88.


The Ministry of Municipal Affairs accepted all five recommendations. The City of Penticton rejected the Ombudsperson’s recommendation.


The City of Penticton took issue with the Ombudspersons 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,”


The regular public council meeting scheduled for 1 pm December 14th can be viewed here.

http://csg001-harmony.sliq.net/00201/Harmony/en/View/UpcomingEvents/20200327/-1


Notice for a special closed council meeting has been posted on Penticton's website for Tuesday, December 4th at 9 am.




Adjournment to a Closed Meeting

Resolution THAT Council adjourn to a closed meeting of Council pursuant to the provisions of the Community Charter as follows: Section 90 (1)


(e) the acquisition, disposition or expropriation of land or improvements, if the Council

considers that disclosure could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality;


(g) litigation or potential litigation affecting the municipality;

Section 90 (2) (c) a matter that is being investigated under the ombudsperson act of which the municipality has been notified under section 14 [Ombudsperson to notify authority] of that Act.


https://www.penticton.ca/


https://bcombudsperson.ca/news_release/vulnerable-penticton-resident-unfairly-loses-home-in-municipal-tax-sale-ombudsperson-calls-for-compensation-and-law-reform/


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