Karan Yadav, a security guard with Footprints Security, assisted residents at the property tax drive-thru located outside Saanich municipal hall in 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)

Karan Yadav, a security guard with Footprints Security, assisted residents at the property tax drive-thru located outside Saanich municipal hall in 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)

Saanich property tax drive-thru returns, district promotes remote payments

Municipal hall open, but mayor recommends paying online, by mail, at drop-off

It’s property tax season once more and, in light of the pandemic, Saanich is recommending that residents make the most of the various payment methods not requiring face-to-face contact.

In early May, council adopted a 2021 budget that included a 5.76-per-cent property tax increase – $161 for the average Saanich homeowner. By May 26, tax notices were in the mail.

READ ALSO: Saanich adopts 5.76% property tax hike for 2021

While Saanich municipal hall at 770 Vernon Ave. is open to the public, in-person payments aren’t required. Property owners are encouraged to use one of the other safe options, whether it be online, by mail, at a bank, through a mortgage company, at the secure drop boxes outside municipal hall or at the drive-thru.

“We understand some taxpayers prefer to pay their property taxes in person, but to protect our public and staff during the pandemic, we need to limit in-person interactions and the number of visitors in our facilities,” said Mayor Fred Haynes in a statement. “Just like last year, I ask you to use one of six other accessible ways to pay your taxes.”

READ ALSO: Saanich permanently adjusts late penalty for property taxes

Saanich unveiled the property tax drive-thru in June 2020 when the hall was still closed to the public due to COVID-19. It was located in the upper parking lot outside the municipal hall off Vernon Avenue and was overseen by a security guard. This year, the drive-thru will be open from May 31 to July 2 at peak times.

The drop box, on the other hand, is available 24/7 at the municipal hall entrance. Residents are asked to practice social distancing when using the slot and payments must be made by midnight July 2.

READ ALSO: B.C. takes over homeowner grant applications, raises eligibility

Saanich property owners who miss the July 2 deadline will face an adjusted late fee this year rather than a lump sum of 10 per cent. Council permanently adjusted the penalty schedule in April and now, a five-per-cent penalty will be applied after July 2 and another five per cent will be added after Sept. 1.

Unlike in previous years, those applying for a homeowner grant will not be able to do so through the district. The province has taken over the administration of the grant program, so applications must be submitted to the B.C. government. To apply, go to gov.bc.ca/homeownergrant or call 1-888-355-2700.

Questions about payment methods or late penalties can be directed to Saanich’s property tax section at 250-475-5454 or propertytax@saanich.ca.

Do you have a story tip? Email: devon.bidal@saanichnews.com.

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