A West Kelowna resident says he was surprised to find his name and address listed online in a municipal document that has since been removed from the web.
Akshat, who wished to go by only his first name, says his family stumbled across the document — the city’s parcel tax roll — by searching his name and “City of West Kelowna.”
The document lists every property owner and their addresses in the city. Castanet was able to find the document in the same way.
Akshat admits that the information in the file is no different than what used to be published by the phone book, but he said there always was an option to opt out of the phone book. The land title office, meanwhile, charges fees and is not searchable by name.
“I'm just not comfortable with that — I usually didn't try not to give out my addresses to people or anything, just because you never know,” he said.
“Somebody that wants to cause me harm, because they might be offended by something that I said on social media, they know exactly where to find me down to my unit number.”
Akshat posted about the issue in local social media groups, generating a large discussion.
The City of West Kelowna says all municipalities in B.C., by law, must make their parcel tax roll available for inspection by the public.
City manager Paul Gipps says pre-pandemic, the municipality would have a hard copy of the document at city hall for whoever wants to examine it.
With the onset of COVID-19, they were not allowing people to visit city hall, so the municipality published the document online.
Once Akshat raised his concerns, Gipps said they realized they were again allowing the public to attend city hall, so the document was removed from the web on Thursday.
“I said, ‘okay, well it doesn't need to be up, so take it down.’ Because normally, if not for the pandemic, we wouldn't put it online, we’d just have a book that you can inspect at City Hall,” Gipps said.
While B.C. law requires the names and addresses of property owners to be included in the parcel tax role, the Community Charter gives owners the ability to request that their name not be included.
To make this request in West Kelowna, residents who wish their information omitted or obscured on the roll can contact the city’s finance department by calling 778-797-8860 or email [email protected].