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Infrastructure &
Finance Division

Unclaimed Property Office Changes


Circular No. 03:11


March 19, 2003
To: All Municipal and Regional District Financial Administrators

Unclaimed tax sale surplus monies may result when a property is not redeemed after tax sale and the monies in excess of the upset price are unclaimed by the previous owner. These monies are dealt with under Section 416 of the Local Government Act.

The Unclaimed Property Office of the Ministry of Finance is closing effective March 31, 2003, and the program is being transferred to a non-profit society. The Unclaimed Property Amendment Act, 2003 (which provides legislative authority for this change) received Royal Assent on March 12, 2003; the Act contains a consequential amendment to the Local Government Act so that unclaimed surplus tax sale proceeds get remitted to the administrator of the program rather than to the Ministry of Finance.

Full details of the changes are given in the attached notice from the Ministry of Finance. With effect from April 1, 2003, any unclaimed tax sale surplus monies should be sent to the BC Unclaimed Property Society at the address indicated.

Julia Duff, C.A.
Acting Director
Local Government Infrastructure and Finance


Your financial analyst at:
Reception, Local Government Infrastructure and Finance
Tel: (250) 387-4060; Fax: (250) 356-1873
Division Directory
E-mail: Local Government Infrastructure and Finance

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Please be advised that the government has recently introduced amendments to the Unclaimed Property Act to allow for the transfer of the unclaimed property program to a non-profit entity, effective April 1, 2003.

This transfer fulfils a commitment of the government to divest itself of its unclaimed property responsibilities, as outlined in the Ministry of Finance Service Plan for Fiscal 2002/03 - 2004/05. Government has retained its governance role, but will deliver the program through an agency outside of government. The agency selected for this role is the Vancouver Foundation. The Foundation has created the British Columbia Unclaimed Property Society specifically for the purpose of delivering the unclaimed property program. The Society will maintain the searchable database, make location efforts, and assess and process claims. It will be subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, ensuring that personal information continues to be protected.

As a result of these changes, a consequential amendment was made to the Local Government Act. Specifically, Section 416(6) of the Local Government Act was amended as follows:

(6) If the surplus remains unclaimed 3 months after publication under subsection
(5), it must be transferred to the administrator under the Unclaimed Property Act

The practical impact on municipalities is that municipalities will be required to remit surplus tax sale proceeds directly to the British Columbia Unclaimed Property Society (the "administrator"), rather than to the Ministry of Finance. The British Columbia Unclaimed Property Society will then make reasonable efforts to locate and notify owners of their property, as required by the Unclaimed Property Act. If the owner cannot be located, the owner's name and the date that the money became unclaimed will be posted on the Society's unclaimed property database. This change does not affect an owner's right to their property in any way.

This change will apply to tax sale surpluses arising after April 1, 2003. Information about the owner is critical in assisting the Society in locating the correct owner or verifying any claims made against the property. Therefore, for each property, identifying information should be included (the name and address of the owner and any other identifying information such as date of birth).

Surplus tax sales proceeds should be remitted to:

BC Unclaimed Property Society
555 W Hastings St Suite 1200
Box 12132 Harbour Centre
Vancouver BC  V6B 4N6 Attn: Pat Jones, Manager
Phone: (604) 662-3518

Questions regarding the Unclaimed Property Act should be directed to:

Ron Tannhauser, Executive Co-ordinator
Office of the Comptroller General
Ministry of Finance
617 Government St 2nd Fl
Victoria BC V8W 9V1
Phone: (250) 387-8551

Bill 15 - the Unclaimed Property Amendment Act, 2003 is available through the Government of British Columbia Web site at:

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