Greater Vancouverís Newest Parking Tax
By Brock Johnston
The original version the below article was posted on
BCRELinks.com on November 17, 2005. The following
version was updated on December 8, 2005, following the
adoption of three new bylaws regulating the parking tax
at a Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority Board
meeting that day.
In 1998, the provincial government
passed the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority
Act, giving TransLink the ability
to tax parking based on the number of stalls within, or
the size of, a parking area. TransLink is about to make
use of this authority, citing a need for resources to
fund transportation system improvements such as the
Golden Ears Bridge.
How much is the tax?
The rate of the
tax, implementation of the tax, and exemptions to the tax were
finalized as three separate bylaws at a Greater Vancouver
Transportation Authority meeting on December 7, 2005.
These bylaws stand in the place of a parking tax bylaw
adopted earlier this year, but are similar to the
previous bylaw. The
December 7, 2005 bylaws were adopted to ensure greater
consistency with the Greater Vancouver Transportation
Authority Amendment Act, 2005,
which became law on November 24, 2005. The new bylaws
also include exemptions to the parking tax that were not
identified at the time the previous bylaw was adopted,
and bring greater ease to the bylaw amendment process.
The December 7, 2005 GVTA bylaws set the rate of the parking tax at $1.02 per square
meter, or roughly $30.00 per parking stall. While many
believe that the tax will rise in the years ahead, the
provincial government has set a maximum level it can
reach in the GVTA Amendment Act.
This maximum level is $1.43 per square meter, or $45.13
per parking stall.
The size of the parking area to be
taxed has been determined by BC Assessment using a
combination of aerial photos, digital mapping, municipal
records and site visits. Included in the measurement of
taxable parking space are areas related to or ancillary
to parking, such as walkways, driveways, tollbooths and
elevators. However, areas such as gated bicycle lockers
and storage space will be excluded from the calculation
of the parking area to be taxed.
Because the amount of the tax is a flat rate based on
space, it is not linked to the assessed value of the
land on which the parking is located. Thus, parking
areas will be taxed, whether the parking is used or not.
Who will pay this tax?
This tax is to be
implemented throughout Greater Vancouver; however,
certain uses and classes of property (such as
residential) will be exempt from paying the tax.
TransLink notes that "as a general rule, any property wholly
exempt from property tax will not be subject to parking
tax". Information on the parking tax exclusions and
exemptions can be found both in the December 7, 2005
GVTA bylaws and the GVTA Amendment Act .
Municipalities are responsible for collecting this
tax and remitting it back to TransLink. The
municipalities are allowed to include this new parking
tax assessment with the notices that landowners
currently receive for their property taxes. Instead of
landowners receiving two tax assessments from the
municipality, landowners will likely receive just one,
which will include both their parking and property tax
assessments. Like property tax notices, parking tax
notices will be sent to the title owner of the land the
parking is located on. As a result, landlords will want
to review the terms of their lease agreements to
determine who is responsible for this additional
The new tax will be levied effective January 1, 2006.
A parking and property tax assessment will be mailed to
taxpayers in late December, 2005. Commercial landlords
who can recover the tax from their tenants should factor
the tax into their 2006 budgets for the recovery of
How can assessments be
The GVTA Amendment Act
governs the process which must be followed to challenge
a parking tax assessment. Under the GVTA Amendment
Act, assessments can be challenged on the following
grounds: who was assessed; the amount and type of land
that has been assessed as taxable; and whether an
exemption has been properly applied.
To challenge an assessment, taxpayers
must file a notice of their complaint with TransLink. If
the complaint is not immediately corrected by TransLink
as an error or omission, the complaint will be heard by
a review panel. If a taxpayer is not satisfied with the
decision of a review panel, in certain cases the
taxpayer may appeal to the Property Assessment Appeal
Board. If the result from the Appeal Board remains
unsatisfactory, the taxpayer may demand that the Appeal
Board send any question of law to the B.C. Supreme
Although taxpayers should not receive
their parking tax assessments until early January, all
notices of complaints must be filed by January 31st. As
a result, it is recommended that anyone who thinks they
may want to challenge their assessment file a notice of
complaint in January as a measure of protection.
Challenges to property tax assessments are governed
by the Assessment Act.
Although the process of challenging a property tax
assessment is very similar to the process of challenging
a parking tax assessment, the notice of complaint that
must be filed goes to different parties depending on
whether the complaint is about the taxpayerís property
or the parking assessment. While a parking tax notice of
complaint should be filed with TransLink directly, a
property assessment notice of complaint should be filed
with BC Assessment. As
a result, taxpayers with concerns about both their
property and parking tax assessments must file two
separate notices of complaint.
[Brock would like to thank Sarah Jones, an articled law student at Clark Wilson LLP, for her help in generating this piece.]
Related Links: Downtown Business Improvement Association:
Vancouver Transportation Authority (TransLink): http://www.translink.bc.ca/ParkingTax/default.asp