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Calls for change to property assessments for those rebuilding following N.S. wildfires

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It's been nearly a year since a wildfire northwest of Halifax destroyed more than 150 homes.

Tricia Murray-d'Eon's was one of them.

"They're anticipating approximately eight months for the rebuild, so we're hoping we'll be back in by Christmas," she said from her temporary accommodations in Hammonds Plains, N.S.

The process has been long, and it's also looking to be expensive.

Before the fire, she says her home's value was assessed at $362,700 with a capped assessment at $286,800. Now, the value is assessed at $741,200.

"We are looking realistically at an approximately $600 per month increase in living expenses, not including, you know, the extra groceries and gas and all that kind of stuff that everyone's facing, but the extra $600 for me because I lost my house in this wildfire," said Murray-d'Eon.

She has now started a petition calling on the Nova Scotia government to amend the Assessment Act.

"To allow the definition of rebuilds to exclude rebuilds after disasters, including wildfires, floods, and hurricanes,” she said.

Hammonds Plains Councillor Pam Lovelace says this is a problem impacting people across the province.

"It's completely wrong that they are expecting to pay two to three times more property taxes based on the fact that the PVSC is following provincial direction in the Assessment Act," said Lovelace. "It's one simple change in that Assessment Act."

Nova Scotia's Housing Department said it knows the people who have been impacted by the wildfires continue to struggle as they work to rebuild.

"The process that the Property Valuation Services Corporation (PVSC) has chosen to apply has been used in the past and allows for a consistent application of the CAP in situations like natural disasters," the province said in a statement to CTV News.

It also said the PVSC has an appeal process, and encourages anyone with questions to reach out to them.

"This is actually an issue that will face many, many more people in Nova Scotia," said Murray-d'Eon.

Her rebuild is expected to begin this month, and she's hoping the government will make the change before then.

The province noted property owners in the direct line of wildfires will receive an additional 15 per cent reduction in their assessed value. It said those letters were mailed in January.

"To give some additional context to what PVSC is applying for those affected by wildfires, this means that if the homeowner had a 25 per cent difference between the assessed value and capped assessment of their property before the fire, that 25 per cent differential will be applied upon completion of new construction," said the province.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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