03/08/2013 06:33 EST | Updated 05/08/2013 05:12 EDT

NAV Canada assessment appeals could pinch cities

Municipalities across Canada could lose some significant tax revenue if Canada's air traffic authority is successful in appealing its property assessments in B.C., CBC News has learned.

Last month, NAV Canada successfully argued before B.C.'s Property Assessment Appeal Board that the value of their Victoria air traffic control tower was not $1.4 million, but just $20.

The agency, which controls aircraft navigation across Canada, argued that as a not-for-profit occupying space that could only be used for air traffic control, its property has no market value beyond its intended use.

B.C.'s property assessment appeal board agreed and also ordered similar re-evaluations for three other control towers in Penticton, Pitt Meadows and Castlegar, reducing their assessed value to $20 each also.

Now B.C. Assessment is appealing those $20 dollar re-evaluations to the B.C. Supreme Court, and about two dozen other assessments in B.C. hinge on the outcome of that case.

NAV Canada has confirmed it also plans to appeal the property assessments of its aircraft control tower Canada-wide. The appeals will apply to dozens of aircraft control towers and the related office and parking space, right across the country.

Municipalities stand to lose

Alice Finall, the mayor of the District of North Saanich, where Victoria's airport is located, says if NAV Canada wins the B.C. Supreme Court case, her municipality could lose $72,000 in annual property tax revenue.

"That's a significant loss to our revenues," said Finall.

"I'm certain that the City of Richmond would have some concern, Kelowna, there are other airports around the province," said Finall, referring to the locations of B.C.'s two other largest airports.

Finall says the province needs to intervene, just like it did in a similar situation with BC Ferries.

Last year BC Ferries successfully argued the value of its Horseshoe Bay Ferry terminal in West Vancouver down from $49 million to $20 also.

But in February, political pressure from the provincial government forced the provincially-owned ferry corporation to settle for a revised property value of $47 million.