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Tenants of Fraser River water lots to pay more

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Henrik Lindstrom’s tiny floating homestead in B.C.
Henrik Lindstrom’s tiny floating homestead in B.C. Photo: Lloyd Kahn, from Kahn’s book Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter.

Lease holders of water space on the Fraser River are facing up to an 80 per cent increase in their lease rates and an increase of their insurance requirements.

Port Metro Vancouver, a company that controls water-lot leases on behalf of the province, has increased the cost of leasing space on the river and increased the required insurance premium to match the current value of the area.

The land value increased 

“Some little gnome in a back room decided that river value has gone up so rent should go up too,” said Coun. Bruce McDonald.

“I understand PMV has to make money to survive as a company, but they are doing that by riding on the backs of those who can ill afford to do it.”

Lease holders of water space on the Fraser are looking at their water-lot lease rates increase by 50 to 79 per cent, and increasing their insurance premium by a minimum of 50 per cent said Mike Owen, a representative for the general commercial user group and owner of Mike’s Marina.

Implementing change

The port started informing residents of the rate increases in June 2012 via letter, which is frustrating for Owen because who has received a letter and who is yet to be informed in unclear.

“Some little water-lot owners are calling me up and asking why their insurance is the same as the big tugboat business’s up the river,” said Owen.

“You have to increase your insurance, increase your water lot taxes and bring in an inspector to evaluate your house. That adds another dollar.”

BOAT: Bring On Another Thousand 

Say you and a friend own a small houseboat on the river, and also had a little fishing boat moored beside your house. You and your friend pay $10,000 per year to rent the water space to stay there.

Then your lease rate increases by 50 per cent and suddenly you are paying $15,000 per year. That means you and your friend have to pay around $410 more per month.

And that is on top of taxes for your property, electricity, water, garbage and recycling pickup.

“If a company in the city increased their lease by 80 per cent there would be people in the street with pitchforks,” said McDonald.

Coun. Sylvia Bishop agrees.

“It’s outrageous,” she said. “The value has increased at a far higher rate than, for example, residential [land based] homes.”

Why now

The change in rates comes from the end of the lease various port authorities held for the past 70 years.

Now the various authorities have merged to create Port Metro Vancouver and the port is re-evaluating the value of the area around and on the river.

Trust in the future

The port’s lack of communication with Delta leading up to the rate increases concerns Owen.

“PMV is assuring us of openness in working with the municipality [when developing the Roberts Bank second terminal.] But they handed out the letters without notifying the councillors. Makes you question how open they are really going to be.”

Port Metro Vancouver was unavailable for comment.

Reported by Michelle Gamage

This post first appeared on Gamage’s South Delta Scoop blog.

The Voice Online’s At Large section features blog posts on municipal beats including Burnaby, Coquitlam, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, Delta and Metro Vancouver produced by Langara journalism students.

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