Million dollar oceanview homes in a sinkhole-plagued area of Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast are now worth a twoonie while nearby undeveloped plots that previously sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars are now valued at a mere loonie, according to B.C Assessement.
The figures released Thursday are yet another blow to the already heartbroken residents of the Seawatch neighbourhood on the Sunshine Coast who were forced from their homes over 10 months ago when the district declared a local state of emergency because of unstable ground.
"[The assessments] came largely as a surprise ... and as possible confirmation that their worst fears are true — that really their homes are worthless now," said lawyer Jeffrey Scouten, who is representing eight homeowners in legal claims against the district, province and developer.
Sinkholes have been a problem in the area for years but after a big one opened up on Christmas day in 2018, engineers determined there was an unacceptable risk to the public.
In February 2019, residents of 14 homes were ordered evacuated and the street was designated a no-go zone, complete with concrete barriers and fences to keep people out.
Scouten says his clients have questions they'd like B.C. Assessment to answer, like why properties next door or across the street from evacuated homes received regular assessment values.
"It's not like the geotechnical problems stop at some borderline ... so they're puzzled by that," he said.
Scouten believes the $1 and $2 assessments means his clients will no longer be required to pay property taxes on their unlivable homes, something they have continued to do because it's required by law.
"That's the silver lining to a very dark cloud," he said.