11/08/2013 09:52 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 10:53 EST

Some Montreal homeowners stunned over spike in property assessments

Some homeowners on the island of Montreal are worried about how high their property taxes will be when they get the bill this spring, after a spike in their municipal assessment rolls.

Cynthia Schwartz recently got her property evaluation in the mail, and it showed a hefty increase.

“When I bought the house, it was evaluated at $289,000. The most recent [property evaluation] I just got was for $490,000. So $200,000 in four years. Not only have I not renovated it, I haven’t even changed a lightbulb,” Schwartz said.

Neighbours who live on her street in St. Henri got the same shock.

“Everybody's up in arms in the whole neighbourhood. I was walking my dogs the other night and there was a whole group of people hanging out just complaining about it,” Schwartz said, adding that she will contest the city’s evaluation.

Urban versus Suburban

Real estate experts say this is the price to pay if a homeowner wants to live on the island.

“It’s a fact that you’ll have to pay higher property tax, but if you want a home in the Montreal area you’ll have to face the choice between buying on the island or in the suburbs,” said Paul Cardinal, manager of the market analysis department at the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards.

Every year, the city of Montreal loses about 22,000 people to the suburbs.

Urban sprawl was a major issue in recent weeks during Montreal’s municipal election campaign, and mayor-elect Denis Coderre said during his campaign that he would work to carefully manage the tax burden.

Coderre says it’s still on his list of priorities.

“I'm going to have to talk to my people. We'll see what we're going to do about it, but there are some tough decisions to make no matter what - the budget is coming.”