Qualicum Beach business facing steep property values

Qualicum Beauty Salon and Barbershop taking steps to avoid closing after 45 years in business.

The Qualicum Barber Shop and Beauty Salon.

The Qualicum Barber Shop and Beauty Salon.

Fred Lucht has spent much of his adult life around the Qualicum Barbershop and Beauty Salon. It is owned by his mom Mary and late father, Fred Sr., and has been a Qualicum Beach institution for the last 45 years.

Fred Jr. didn’t expect that a simple property value assessment could put his family’s history at the business in jeopardy.

Earlier this month, Lucht said he opened his property assessment notice, to find it had ballooned by 50 per cent. A modest building sits on the property – as do a couple of low-income rental units – which have not changed much over the years (it was built in, and operated as a barbershop, in 1945). This assessment increased the value of these building from $375,000 to $505,000 Lucht said.

“I was quite taken aback by it,” he said, adding his immediate thought was that their subsequent property taxes would force the family to close their business.

“Indeed, our taxes will double,” he explained after meeting with staff at the Town of Qualicum Beach. “We are facing some bad choices. We would have to absorb the new costs somehow – raise our rates or raise rent.”

Before considering shutting down the business, Lucht said he has gone to the municipality for help, and hopes to meet with the mayor soon. He has also spoken with the Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce, seeking advice. During his research, Lucht said he has come across other local businesses facing steep assessment increases.

Lucht said he called the BC Assessment office and confirmed no one from there had visited his family’s property in making their determination of its value. The assessment, he said, was based on other nearby property improvements. the only improvement to his own property, he said, was a new deck.

Nearby, on Memorial Avenue, improvements and new commercial buildings have been added to the downtown area. Lucht said he believes this fact led to his higher assessment.

Lucht is appealing the assessment, with the hope of bringing it back down to earth. Businesses or homeowners who wish to appeal their property’s assessed values – from too high to too low – have until Jan. 31 to file a complaint to BC Assessment. Appeals will be heard by a board between Feb. 1 and March 15.

BC Assessment reports that business properties in central Vancouver Island went up in value by 3.62 per cent over 2011. Residential properties declined in value by a mere 0.06 per cent. These are averages, and each property’s value will vary.

BC Assessment states that real estate sales determine a property’s value. Local governments and other taxing authorities are responsible for property taxation.

Peter Doukakis, manager of the Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce said Lucht’s issue is the first one he’s heard of this year and, generally, the chamber could step in to help as a last resort after the assessment appeal process. The chamber board members will also be discussing the matter.