BC Assessment was created in 1974 in response to the need
for a fair, independent organization that valued property in the province.
Since its inception, BC Assessment has provided uniform, fair and independent
service to the people of British Columbia.
To learn more about BC Assessment’s history, read our Corporate History document.
From 1860 to
Our modern system of property taxation has roots in England
in the Middle Ages. William the Conqueror completed an inventory of the
nation's wealth, including farm animals. This was used to provide a basis for a
tax and wealth, and was England's first complete assessment roll.
In 1860, British Columbia and Vancouver Island were still
separate colonies; New Westminster was established by proclamation as the first
city in the Colony of British Columbia. At the same time, the Real Estate Act
was passed in the Colony of Vancouver Island, levying an annual tax of one per
cent on the market value of real estate. Assessors were appointed to perform
the assessment function.
Originally, the duties of assessors required minimal on-site
or mass appraisal expertise. Instead, assessors established actual market
values based on property owners’ estimates to compile the assessment rolls.
Over time, each city created separate organizations using
individual assessment criteria. As a
result, due to the lack of standard valuation methods, assessments were
frequently challenged and often difficult to defend. By 1973, with 140
independent assessment organizations in British Columbia, the situation had
grown into a serious provincial crisis. Alarmed with the rising incidence of
serious equity grievances, and pressured by property owners and the public
sectors, government was compelled to take action and implement new and improved
1973 to the
By the end of 1973, the British Columbia government struck
an all-party Special Legislative Committee on Assessment to explore remedies
and to propose recommendations to the annual assessment process. In 1974, the
all-party committee unanimously recommended to the Provincial Cabinet that
legislation be passed to create a completely independent assessment authority.
Their report stated, "This Authority must be independent of taxing
functions (either municipal or provincial) and its control must be such as will
result unmistakably in complete independence."
On July 2, 1974, the Assessment Authority Act received Royal
Assent. The passing of this Act and its companion, the Assessment Act,
reconciled almost 100 years of inequities, commissions, and official government
reports into British Columbia's property assessment and valuation process.
The Assessment Authority Act granted government the power to
create a province-wide assessment authority. Six months later, the British
Columbia Assessment Authority had produced the province's first impartial and
independent assessment rolls and notices. Major problems that existed before
the Authority's establishment have been fully resolved and issues such as
efficiency, professionalism, impartiality and uniformity, have vastly improved.