The City of Nanaimo has bought five properties at auction from this year's annual tax sale for a total bargain basement price of $17,165.36.
The sale is held on lands that have not paid municipal tax for three years or more. Revenue services manager Laura Mercer said the number of sales has "definitely been the lowest we've seen in at least four years."
The properties in question are small lots throughout the city, two of which - 1667 Extension Rd. and 1009 Beverley Dr. - include residential buildings.
The remaining properties - 383 Westwood Rd., 2457 East Wellington Rd. and 109 Pirates Ln. - are undeveloped.
The highest price the city paid was $6,507.61 for the Extension Road property, while the municipality paid only $330.78 for the property on Westwood Road.
Seventy-seven properties on the sale list were removed before the 10 a.m. sale began on Monday, after the oldest outstanding taxes on the parcels were paid off.
Of the five properties that did make it to auction, one potential buyer bid on the East Wellington and Pirates Lane lands. However, the city ultimately placed higher bids on both lands.
Under B.C. law, the city has the right to sell properties that have outstanding taxes for an 'upset price,' equal to all taxes owing on the land, plus penalties, interest, fees and five per cent of the tax sale costs.
The city has a policy to bid on lands for sale up to a certain dollar amount - although Mercer said the city keeps the number secret so as not to skew future bidding contests.
The reason the city bids is to allow the original owners a chance to get their land back by settling their outstanding balance with the city, Mercer said.
"Because ultimately, we don't want anybody to lose their home," she added. "And so, if we can provide them with as many options as we can to get them to keep it, then we would keep it."
In most cases, land does not change hands frequently through tax sales.
In 2005, the city lost a court battle to overturn the tax sale of a Dickinson Road property to resident Ed McCready.
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