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Some N.S. homeowners living in flood zones had property assessments increased


Residents who are still grappling with the aftermath of the floods that struck Union Street in Bedford, N.S., on July 21, 2023 received notice this week that their property assessments went up.

Grayling Cornelius received his assessment in the mail on Thursday. He said the capped value increased from $7000 to $8000.

“The assessed value increased by $40,000,” says Cornelius.

Part of his house after the July floods is not liveable and Cornelius said selling it would be difficult. He is also expecting to pay up to 3.2 per cent more on property tax. While he knew the assessment was coming, he did not expect to see an increase.

He feels defeated.

“I could sit down and cry right now but I don’t see the point in it. You know, crying over spilled milk. I’ve been flooded twice (and) it’s going to happen again unless the province or federal can help us on Union Street,” he says.

Since the floods, Cornelius has been trying to rebuild. He already put $60,000 into insulating the basement after having to rip apart the walls because they were covered in mold and mildew. He only has another $30,000 left but it is still not enough to complete half the job.

Grayling Cornelius once had his basement finished and furnished. Now it's cluttered with things that survived the flood and tools to repair what he can.

Out of the $60,000 he put into the fixtures, his insurance covered $50,000. Cornelius has not received any money from the disaster relief fund yet.

“I’m not a contractor. It’s not real easy for me to do it myself, and I don’t know if I really should redo this basement,” he said. “I know that, without the province buying the homes, I’m going to be in the same boat as most 10 years down the road because that’s the way it’s been about every 10 years,” said Cornelius.

Since receiving his property assessment, Cornelius has made several phone calls to Property Valuation Services Corporation (PVSC) about the impacts this will have on his property tax. He said he was told it would be increasing by 3.2 per cent.

“There’s two things sure in life — death and taxes. I’m going to have to pay taxes regardless but to pay more taxes and less living space and the fear of always having less living space in my home just rubs me the wrong way,” he said.

Before the floods, Cornelius lived in his basement unit, while his son lived on the upper floor. Now he shares the upper floor with his son.

Last week the Halifax’s municipality met with the representatives from PVSC about assessments. City council said they were assured residents on Union Street would not see an increase.

“My understanding is those areas would be reassessed based on the damage based on what happened and whether they are occupiable,” said area councillor Tim Outhit.

However, some property owners are seeing up to a $100,000 dollar increase on their homes.

“Homes in this neighbourhood that haven’t been able to be used — and they’re in a dangerous flood zone — have jumped $80 to $100,000 in assessments in some cases is simply ridiculous,” said Outhit.

Cornelius’s premium for his insurance has increased, while his coverage has decreased. All of it is financially crippling, he says.

“If the province and federal government can’t help us on Union Street, I don’t see any way out of it. Unless I take a loss, sell the house to anybody that wants to spend the money to raise it above floodwaters. And I have no idea what that would cost, but I know it’s more than I can afford.”

CTV News reached out to the province about the assessments but they declined an interview and suggested homeowners contact PVSC.

CTV also reached out to PVSC. When asked to speak with us they said, “At this time, we are simply encouraging property owners to contact us directly if they have questions regarding their assessment or new information that we should take into account.”

Cornelius says he hopes the province helps the people living in the flood zone.

“I’ve heard nothing from the province. I didn’t expect to but I hope they’ll do (the right thing). But hope… you know, how far can that go?”

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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