Musqueam Indian Band v. Musqueam Indian Band Board of Review, et al.
(British Columbia) (Civil) (By Leave)
Aboriginal law - Indian reserves, Indian bands, Taxation, Property assessments, Interpretation, Taxation legislation.
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Aboriginal law - Indian Reserves - Indian Band By-laws - Taxation - Property Assessments - Interpretation - Taxation Legislation - Golf course operating on Indian Reserve and paying rent and taxes to Indian Band - Band challenging property tax assessment on the basis that the property’s highest and best use should reflect its potential residential use - Whether Court of Appeal erred in its interpretation and application of Band’s property assessment Bylaw - Whether Court of Appeal erred in concluding that use of property in question as golf and country club, as provided in lease with Crown, was a “restriction” that was “placed… by the band” and could therefore be considered in determining property’s actual value for assessment and taxation purposes - Whether Court of Appeal erred by reading in words to Bylaw, by disregarding relevant facts and conflating knowledge of proposed use with placement of restriction, by not applying general principle of assessment law reflected in Bylaw, and by disregarding annual nature of assessments and appeals.
The Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club operates its golf course in Vancouver, on reserve land belonging to the Musqueam Indian Band. Since 1958, the Club has leased this land from the Band, and the lease restricts the use of the property to that of a golf course. During that time, the Club has paid property taxes, first to the City of Vancouver, and then to the Band, based on the value of the land as a golf course. The Band appealed a 2011 tax assessment of the property to the Musqueam Indian Band Board of Review, contending that the true assessed value of the property should be its value as residential land, which would have yielded a higher assessment value, based on its interpretation of its own property assessment by-law. The Board sought a determination from the Supreme Court of British Columbia on whether the use of the land as a golf course could properly be considered in assessing the value of the property. The Supreme Court of British Columbia answered the question in the affirmative, holding that the use of the property as a golf course could be considered in assessing the value of the land to determine its highest and best use. On appeal by the Band, the British Columbia Court of Appeal upheld this result but varied the Supreme Court of British Columbia’s answers, finding that the use of the land as a golf course constituted a “restriction” on use specified in the lease, which was “placed by the Band”, and was therefore to be considered by the Board in assessing the property’s value under the terms of the Band’s property assessment by-law.
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