Photo Vans To Capture Home Images for BC Assessment

By Contributor
July 30th, 2015

We may see a “clearly marked” van taking pictures of our homes in the near future in Rossland and Trail.  The pictures are for BC Assessment, to enable them to more accurately assess the “fair market value” of our homes for purposes of property taxation.  Here’s the official press release, and following that, some FAQs and the responses.

Digital cameras mounted inside a clearly-marked van will soon be on the residential streets of Rossland and Trail as BC Assessment continues to use innovation to update photos used for property assessment purposes.

The residential photo update initiative will take street front digital photos of approximately

1,819 single family homes in Rossland and 3,315 in Trail during the month of August. This technology has already been successfully used in several communities throughout British Columbia.

“As the Crown corporation responsible for accurately valuing all properties in B.C. and continually serving as a leading source of the province’s property information, we are always looking for innovative ways to provide more timely, accurate, equitable and fair assessments to all property owners,” said Rod Ravenstein, Deputy Assessor for the Kootenay Columbia region.

BC Assessment will photograph only the public street front of a home including the civic (street) address number.

BC Assessment will not retain any personal information related to:

·         Any images of people on the property.

·         Visible signage on a residence (excluding street address), including business signs, signs with the names of the people living at that property and any other type of signage that may relate to the identity of a person. This includes vehicle license plates.

·         The interior of a residence (e.g., images that show the inside of a home through a window or open doorway, or the interior of an enclosed vehicle shelter such as a garage).

Visit www.bcassessment.ca for further information about BC Assessment. Visit our YouTube channel to view a video demonstration of the photo update initiative.

And here are the FAQs:

Frequently Asked Questions for Property Owners:

Q. Why is it necessary for BC Assessment to take photos of properties?

BC Assessment’s mandate is to ensure that all properties in B.C. are accurately, fairly and equitably assessed for property tax purposes. To keep our information up to date, we periodically take street front and aerial photographs, visit property owners or mail questionnaires to property owners asking a number of questions about their property, such as number of bedrooms and bathrooms and building dimensions.

Q. What’s so different about this photo update initiative?

Instead of appraisers walking slowly from house to house to inspect and photograph properties from the street, we have contracted a private company, Tyler Technologies, to update street front property photos quickly using digital camera equipment mounted inside a mobile van.  

Q. What’s the purpose of this initiative?

BC Assessment is using this method to more efficiently and cost effectively update our ever-increasing inventory of properties (BC Assessment currently values almost two million properties throughout the province). 

Q. Under what authority does BC Assessment have to do this project?

BCA’s Property Photo Update Initiative, and its collection of information, is authorized under sections 14 and 16 of the Assessment Act

Q. How many properties will be photographed?

For the Kootenays region, there are approximately 2,755 properties in Castlegar,  1,819in Rossland,  3,315 in Trail and tentatively 3,385 in Nelson that will be photographed.

Q: How often will BC Assessment do this in my neighbourhood?

This is the only residential property photo update initiative currently planned for your community in 2015. 

Q: How are the pictures taken?

A white van containing state-of-the-art digital camera equipment will stop in front of every home and take a photo of each residence. Photos will only be taken from the street (public right of way).

Q: Will the mobile photo van be marked with any kind of identifying signage?

Magnetic signs on both sides of the van will read: BC Assessment, Property Photo Update Initiative.  The van driver will provide information upon request.

Q. How will you ensure that the pictures don’t include any personal information related to the property?

BC Assessment’s contractor, Tyler Technologies, is under a contractual obligation not to photograph any personal information related to:

·         Images of people on the property, including partial images comprised of parts of faces and/or bodies.

·         Visible signage on a residence (excluding civic street number), including political signage, business signs, signs with the names of the people living at that property, plaques and any other type of signage that may relate to the identity of a person.

·         Views of the interior of the residential improvements which are normally enclosed (eg., images that show the inside of a home via a window or open doorway, or the interior of an enclosed vehicle shelter such as a garage).

While Tyler Technologies will try to avoid taking photos which contain personal information, there will be cases where photos will have to be scrubbed of personal information.  The personal information will not be retained by Tyler or publicly disclosed.  Once the photos have been scrubbed, the photos will not contain any personal information.

Q. What are the pictures used for?

The pictures will be used by BC Assessment in its day-to-day business to provide more accurate residential property assessments. As well, property owners who appeal their assessment can request information on comparable sales which would include the new pictures. Comparable sales information has often included photos.

Q.  Will my property taxes change as a result of this initiative?

Not necessarily.  The municipality where your property is located (which is your taxation jurisdiction) sets the property tax rates, not BC Assessment.  BC Assessment determines the market value of properties and it is these assessments that then form the basis of an equitable tax distribution amongst properties. If the photograph of your property shows improvements that increase your property’s value for the future Assessment Roll and your property’s assessment increase is above the average for your community’s residential properties, then your tax dollar amounts might be increased.

Q.  Will I face repercussions from the municipality if I have made changes to my home without a permit and you record it in a photograph?

BC Assessment has no information about actions that these jurisdictions may take, but please be assured that the image in the photograph is taken from the public street.  If the changes to your home are visible from the street, the municipality may already be aware of them.  If the changes are not visible from the street, then the photograph will not show the changes.

Q. Who is Tyler Technologies?

Tyler Technologies is a leading major and highly reputable provider of essential software solutions to the public sector. Their property assessment technology has been used internationally, including the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Although Tyler Technologies is headquartered in Dallas, Texas, all of the work is being performed in Canada.  The company has a wholly owned Canadian subsidiary, registered in the Province of British Columbia which ensures all work is performed in Canada. Tyler will not transmit photographs outside of Canada nor make them accessible from outside of Canada. More information about Tyler Technologies is available at: http://www.tylertech.com

Q.  Who can I contact if I have any other questions about this?

Youcan contact BC Assessment at: 1-866-825-8322 (1-866-valueBC) and ask to be connected with your local BC Assessment office.

If you have any questions about the collection, use or disclosure of the photographs, you may contact BCA’s Manager Information Access & Privacy at:

1-866-825-8322 (Ext. 00282)



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