Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Life is getting in the Way of Blogging

Lately I seem to be spending all my time in front of a computer. Usually this is not a problem because I'm pursuing my favourite pastimes, namely reading blogs, surfing the net and generally wasting time, when I should be organizing my house or making a new quilt with the masses of gorgeous fabric which I have in my stash.

But no, I'm entering data into spreadsheets in Excell , a program of which I have minimal knowledge. Consequently I have to yell for assistance from the old helpdesk. Luckily, being a retired scientist, he's not too bad with that particular program, for I do sorely hate to use the manual. Naturally, I had to spend an inordinate amount of time gathering the data for the spreadsheets from nasty micro fiches in a government public office.

You see I'm fighting for justice. I'm trying to right a wrong. I'm on a committee. I'm always on a committee. I seem to have been on a committee of one kind or another for the past thirty years. I thought, when I retired from the hospital, my committee days were behind me, but no. Not long after, I'm on the next one. Then the next one. You see I always speak up, I give my opinion. I usually have an opinion. This of course leads to a job, to a position on a committee.

Let me give you a little background for this particular committee. We don't own a freehold property. We have lived in this house, on a beautiful lot, in a beautiful subdivision of 225 properties, for thirty years. But you see it's leasehold property, on an Indian reserve. In retrospect it was probably one of the worst economic decisions we have ever made. But we love living here, at the delta of the mighty Fraser River, close to the University where we both spent all our working lives. Near the place where my two children did their undergraduate degrees and where they were able to cycle every day.

But we have one very big problem, which is that our leaseholds are assessed for tax purposes as if they were freehold, and as if they were off the reserve. Now I'm sure you all know that Vancouver has the highest real estate prices in North America. So you should not be surprised to hear that my 4 bedroomed, two storeyed, 35 year old house is assessed at $1.4 million while it would probably bring $750,000 on the market, because it's leasehold on Indian land.

So that's the committee I'm currently on. We are petitioning the government assessment office to reduce our assessments. Of course they say that if the properties were off the reserve they would sell for $1.4 million. Maybe they are right, but they are not off the reserve. So far we have persuaded them in meetings to reduce the assessment by $105,000. Big deal, but better than nothing. Last year we did get nothing. But now we are preparing for hearings before the Board of Review. This is more like a court of law with briefs being prepared in advance and exchanged beforehand just like a trial. Each leaseholder who has appealed his assessment has to prepare his own brief with argument as to why the value should be reduced. So I'm gathering data and making spreadsheets and writing my brief. Only one of us has to convince the Board ( a group of lawyers appointed by the Indian Band) to reduce the assessment and we will all reap the reward. So you see I have to gather a lot of data and present it in an organized and convincing way. And probably all for nothing.

Oh, your eyes glazed over long ago. Wake up! I'm just telling you why my Assissi post is taking much longer than planned and why my little Westie body may not be sitting in your comment section quite so often. And did I tell you that next week I'm going on a cruise to Alaska? Well maybe you tuned out long ago.

I'm not sure what the old computer lady is going to do with the knife but let me tell you she's just asking for trouble with that coffee precariously balanced on top. And for crying out loud, who only has one post-it on her computer, I ask you?


26 comments:

Janice Thomson said...

Oh you lucky devil...ALASKA!...I will of course be expecting mega amounts of photos of this trip. I certainly hope this time the review board will seriously reconsider your case.
Have fun on your trip and see you when you get back.

Ian Lidster said...

That development was created when I was an undergrad at UBC. And then when I learned of the plight of the residents with the tax matter a few years ago, my heart went out to you all over the unfairness of it.
Enjoy your cruise. Yesterday the Empress of the North was in Victoria Harbor, and it will be in Vancouver today (you should have a look) with all its Rhett Butler glories intact despite the fact it is only 4 years old. It's a magnificent sternwheeler replica that I would love to join as it wends its way back to Juneau. Have fun on your trip.

Ian

Eurodog said...

jmb,
I too am battling with Excell and I am not very good at it. I, like you am entering data. In my case to organise an obedience competition in my dog club. But I tell you bleu fumes are coming out of my office. When I ask one of my children for help they just answer in the fastest possible way:"do this, that and this again and then that and that's it". Yes of course. My husband assumes I know what I am doing so I struggle along and am proud when I can go the line in an individual cell.
Alaska! We came down from Prince Rupert, halibut capital of the world, through the inside passage to Victoria. I would love to visit Canada again but I cannot leave Belle for a long period of time.
Look forward to seeing your pictures.

Ellee said...

What a wonderful location, I would love to see some pics.

Good luck with the assessment.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Love it! The pic, the writing and all! You shouldn't be so brilliant, jmb - then they wouldn't want you on all the committees! I admit I can't do maths so I didn't quite get all that with the figures, but I do see that it's not fair! Good for you for fighting it. Havge a lovely cruise to Alaska and then come back and tell us all about it in your inimitable way. I look forward to the Assissi post whenever you are ready to treat us to it. Take care, dear jmb.

jmb said...

Hi Janice,
I'm looking forward to see the great marine life and taking some good pictures. I'm not disappearing yet just mentioned it in passing.
regards
jmb

jmb said...

Hi Ian,
Yes it's a lovely spot to live but since the early nineties there have been some really big issues for this area.
I wish I had time to pop down and see the Empress of the North but have some things to deal with today.
regards
jmb

jmb said...

Hi Eurodog,

I'm sure Excell is a very fine program if you know what you are doing. So the bleu fumes are also surrounding my head. I am not very good with the layout so the number parts are all great, all doing the little calculations for me. But the layout is rather amateurish.
I've never taken the trip from Prince Rupert to Vancouver Island but I believe it is beautiful. Did you hear about the ferry doing that route that sank last year with two deaths? A very big scandal here.
regards
jmb

jmb said...

Hi Ellee,
maybe I'll post some soon. Thanks for stopping by.
regards
jmb

jmb said...

Hi Welshcakes,
Well I'm on all the committees because I'm competent( not brilliant) and outspoken but in a nice way, I hope.
I'm leaving a week today so I'll still be posting.
regards
jmb

Josie said...

JMB, I have friends who have a home in that district, so I understand your frustration. I am concerned, also, about the billboards that will be going up at Lions Gate and Burrard Bridges. Now there's a committee I would like to serve on, if one is ever formed. I'm already stockpiling dynamite to blast the billboards to smithereens. (Kidding, kidding, please don't anyone take me seriously...)

Chers,
Josie

jmb said...

Hi Josie,
It is a very frustrating business and we all feel quite powerless. But we still keep trying.
Bill boards on the bridges are too horrible to contemplate, I hope someone stops it. It's bad enough that we have to look at the ugly buses.
regards
jmb

ipanema said...

Good luck with your data gathering. I hope you'll succeed in tax reduction scheme you're all aiming for.

Anyway, what a week it will be huh? Off to Alaska eh? Good for you! Enjoy the cruise. :)

Lee said...

Well, I hope you have a win, jmb! Good on you! :)

Eurodog said...

I would love to hear more about that ferry accident sometime. We did not hear about here; my husband and I would have picked it up for sure.

Voyager said...

Have a great time in Alaska, and good luck with your tax issue.
V.

Donnetta Lee said...

Hi, JMB: Alaska! Wow! You'll have a great time. Take those pictures as others have stated before me. You are such a good writer. I'm glad I found you!
Donnetta

jmb said...

Thanks Lee, I'm a bulldog and always go down fighting. I have nothing to lose but a lot of time and effort.
regards
jmb

jmb said...

Hi ipanema,
Thanks for the good wishes. I'm sure we will enjoy the cruise, I'll be very glad to get out of meal preparation for a week.
regards
jmb

jmb said...

Hi Eurodog,
I sent you an email with a link. It was a big scandal, still ongoing of course and tragic because of the loss of life, which thankfully was not greater.
regards
jmb

jmb said...

Hi voyayer,
Thanks for your best wishes. Nothing to lose with the assessment issue.
regards
jmb

jmb said...

Hi Donetta Lee,

I'll be snapping pictures left right and centre so hopefully some will be good enough to put on my blog.

Thanks for your kind words about my writing. I feel very intimidated when I read all the other great blogs, but I keep twittering away. I hope it will eventually get easier.
regards
jmb

leslie said...

Hi jmb - I know all about that problem you're having in your area. Like Ian, I did my undergrad at UBC and went past your place every day. It's a beautiful spot, but as you say, not economically sound. There's a gorgeous area out in Tsawwassen that's on leasehold land but we decided we didn't want to live there because of the very problem you are now encountering.

You'll love Alaska - I've been twice now, once with Holland America and once with Norwegian (preferred NCL) although HA was okay (great spa). Look forward to hearing about your holiday.

jmb said...

Hi Leslie,
Based on my experience avoid Indian leasehold like the plague. But I think the Tsawwassen band tried to avoid the problems that Musqueam has.
I've been to Alaska before on HA and Princess. I liked HA better because the ships are smaller. I hear NCL is even better. Maybe next time, but we got a deal with HA on a last minute booking.
regards
jmb

MuseinMeltdown said...

Brilliant post... thank you I haven't stopped chuckling for ages - that picture is just how I feel (and I do have more post it notes)

jmb said...

Hi shani,
Thanks for visiting my site. It's a great picture, isn't it. I came to check your site too and will come back later and explore more.
regards
jmb