Picktons in Vancouver court trying to overturn assessment of pig farm property

Greg Joyce
Canadian Press

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

VANCOUVER (CP) - The brother of accused serial killer Robert Pickton says he will plant hay and raise horses on the remaining six hectares of the notorious former pig farm where Pickton lived before he was charged with 26 counts of first-degree murder.

"It's guaranteed," Dave Pickton said outside court after a brief appearance in B.C. Supreme Court that was adjourned to next month.

"It'll be back as a farm next year," he said.

The older brother of Robert Pickton, whose trial on six of the 26 counts is scheduled to begin in January, is asking the court to overturn an assessment of the B.C. Assessment Authority.

"I'll be seeding it next week," said Dave Pickton, adding that dump trucks were scheduled to be on the property Wednesday spreading topsoil.

He said he plans to raise horses as a hobby on the property.

The authority has assessed his property on the basis of the City of Port Coquitlam's official community plan, which foresees the area as townhouse and single-family residential.

He wants the court to grant an order returning the land to farm status, thereby allowing him to pay substantially lower property taxes.

In their petition to the court, the two brothers and their sister, Linda Wright, want an order that would give the property in Port Coquitlam farm status instead of residential status for the years 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Two previous decisions went against the Picktons - the first by a property assessment review panel and a second by the property assessment appeal board that upheld the first decision.

Last month, the three family members filed a four-page petition to the court recently, saying "the land has no present use" because it has been off-limits to the Picktons and the public since early February 2002.

Evidence seized at the farm led to Robert Pickton being charged with 27 counts of first-degree murder. One charge was dropped.

The most recent assessment of the property places its value at almost $7.1 million. The Picktons sold about 10 hectares for residential development during the last decade.

The property was removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve in 1986.

Police searched the farm for more almost two years in connection with the first-degree murder charges laid against Robert Pickton.

Kim Fowler, director of development services for Port Coquitlam's planning department, said the land is currently zoned agriculture under that city's bylaws.

But the assessment authority, in determing how much to assess the value of the land, considers the official community plan.

The plan directs the growth of the city, located about 45 minutes east of Vancouver, for the next two decades.

"An assessment on a person's property always takes into account what the current zoning is and also the future designation, which is the official community plan," said Fowler.

There is nothing to stop the Picktons from using the land for agriculture as long as they want, but the assessment won't change unless he can get the court to overturn the assessment authority's valuation or have Port Coquitlam revamp its community plan.

Fowler said it is "fairly common to appeal the assessment."

 The Canadian Press 2006



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