For the second time in less than two years, a series of Coquitlam-based business owners are crying foul over what they feel are exorbitant and unjustified tax increases.
And much like how the issue played out in the summer of 2011, all of the parties involved are pointing the finger at somebody else.
The latest tax problem came to a head at Monday's council in committee meeting, when a southwest Coquitlam business owner claimed her taxes have shot up by 70 per cent over one year.
Cynthia Aasen and her husband John head up the golf instruction business known as the 3D Golf Performance Centre, which is located in a complex at 228 Schoolhouse St.
In her presentation Monday, Aasen claimed she was speaking on behalf of about a half dozen other businesses also located in her complex - fast-food chains, a spa and a home appliance shop, among others.
According to Aasen, her business was charged about $14,000 in property taxes in 2011, compared to the $24,333 bill she received for this year.
"This, to me, is horrific," she said. "It's got to stop. I know what the existing rules and legislation are and it's wrong. It's inequitable. It's not sustainable."
In making her case, Aasen noted property taxes account for her shop's third-largest expense after rent and labour. And in an interview Tuesday, Aasen said she will likely move her business to another community once her lease expires if the issue doesn't get rectified.
"I don't see how this is realistic for any community to justify," she said.
Aasen's presentation was met with little opposition or disagreement among those on council, who pointed the finger at the province and towards BC Assessment.
"I've always said that this is a ridiculous situation, where the only form of income that cities have is based on the valuation of commercial and residential property," said Mayor Richard Stewart. "It needs to be fixed. This council has said it repeatedly."
Finance department staffer Gary Jackson explained there's little, if anything, the city can do to allay Aasen's situation.
"We can't adjust individual taxes," he said. "The way we do the assessment is we average it out and there are going to be some properties that have spikes. But council does not have the ability to make any adjustments."
Zina Weston, deputy assessor for the North Fraser region of B. Assessment, explained property assessments are based on age, size, location, features of the property and land. From there, the assessment authority determines what the market would pay for that land based on recent trends. She noted some of the recent revitalization in the area - work on the Port Mann Bridge and King Edward Overpass - likely played into that increased assessment.
"One of the terms we tend to use for changes in the area might be something like revitalization - so access, profile, and especially for commercial properties, what draws the public to the area and makes it all accessible [factor into the increase]," she said.
Monday's debate played out in a decidedly similar fashion to what took place in the Town Centre area in the summer of 2011. At that time, about six businesses complained of a "property tax tsunami" that saw increases in the range of 30 to 50 per cent in the area.