Houseboaters remain on tax
role despite tribunal victory

by Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (Nov 07/97) - After houseboaters were exempted from paying 1996 municipal taxes, they thought they were on solid ice.

But the city just informed houseboaters they will be included in the 1997 tax role.

Houseboater Fraser Weir said the city's move was humorous, absurd and frightening. "The court said 'thou shalt not tax,' then they go right ahead and try and do it anyway.

"Anyone I've showed this to, their eyes drop out."

Weir is considering writing to the territorial minister of municipal affairs and the minister of justice, asking that action be taken against Yellowknife finance director Robert Charpentier and manager of assessment services Grant Lloyd.

However, Charpentier said the names had to be included on the tax role because of the lateness of the 1996 tribunal decision.

The names cannot just be taken off the tax role for 1997, he said.

Charpentier said he expects council will decide Monday whether or not to appeal the tribunal's decision to Supreme Court.

If they opt not to, the houseboaters' names will likely be taken off the tax role for 1996, exempting them from 1997 tax.

In 1995 the city first told houseboaters they would be required to pay tax.

The board of revision sided with the city, but seven houseboaters took the matter to an assessment appeal tribunal.

They won the appeal last month. The decision applied not only to those who appealed but to all 15 houseboaters who were assessed.

Assessments, or the evaluation of property for taxation purposes, are the responsibility of the territorial government, but the GNWT contracts the city to do assessments within city limits.

Among the tribunal's recommendations was a freeze on assessments until a Supreme Court case dealing with the city's right to exert control over Yellowknife Bay is resolved.