VICTORIA — A vulnerable woman from Penticton, B.C., who lost her home valued at $420,000 when the city sold it to collect $10,000 in overdue property taxes has prompted a call for change from the provincial ombudsperson.

Jay Chalke’s report says the 60-year-old woman had the money to cover the tax bill but personal challenges made it difficult to pay and the City of Penticton sold the home in 2017 for $150,000, costing her about $270,000 in equity.

Chalke’s report calls for significant changes to the way municipalities in B.C. use such sales to collect outstanding property taxes.

He recommends the provincial government review and change the Local Government Act to require municipalities to develop plain-language notices to property owners about tax sales and develop guidelines for local governments to protect people at risk of losing their homes. 

Chalke says he recommended that Penticton compensate the woman for about half her loss, but the city has refused.

Officials from the City of Penticton were not immediately available for comment and the B.C. Municipal Affairs Ministry says it accepts the report’s recommendations.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8. 2021.

The Canadian Press