Posted by Editor on 11/7/09
We received the following e-mail from Scott Laliberte, President of the Burnaby Velodrome Club. It concerns a petition that a local MLA - Lana Popham, Saanich South - has started regarding the planned Harmonized Sales Tax, which would increase the cost of bicycles in British Columbia. Bikes are currently exempt from provincial sales tax, but would be taxed under the new HST.
According to MLA Popham - who is fighting for an exemption - the Minister of Small Business, Ian Black, claims that he has received no feedback from bike shops (or, we assume, the public) against this implementation of a 7% tax on bicycles.
This is disingenuous at best. We know that members of the bicycle industry - suppliers, retailers and the Bicycle Trade Association of Canada (BTAC) recently met with the BC Minister of Finance to discuss this very matter.
Below is the text of the e-mail MLA Popham sent out, with a link to the petition she has started. We urge all concerned members of the cycling community to both sign the petition and contact your local MLA and the Minister. (It should also be noted that BTAC is also working in Ontario, to avoid the same increase when the HST is implemented in that province).
This week in the B.C. legislature I took on a challenge from Ian Black, the Honourable Minister of Small Business. Minister Black claims no bike stores have contacted him regarding the new 7% tax on bicycles; and he is arguing that making bicycles less affordable will not reduce bike sales.
I'm saying cyclists all over British Columbia agree that increasing the cost of cycling is not going to get more people riding their bikes! We don't want our government to add a new tax on buying a bike. No HST on bikes in BC.
It also directly contradicts the BC Liberal government's "Great Goal" of making our province environmentally sustainable.
To meet our provincial Climate Action Plan Goals we must strengthen transportation options like cycling. The HST on bicycles and cycling equipment will create a disincentive to cycling.
Visit a Victoria bike store like Recyclistas and you'll hear how many view this issue.
"[The HST] is kind of frustrating", said Luke Postl of Recyclistas, "especially with things like helmets. Helmets are already a huge chunk of money for some people. You have to wear them, or you get a fine, and now the cost is going up. The cost is going up on other accessories too - oil and grease, patch kits, reflective stickers and locks. All of that was PST-exempt. I'm against the HST. I think it will alienate a lot of people from riding. It's added a cost that is too much. The cost of living is already exorbitant, and the minimum wage isn't going up."
This week I reminded the Minister that for almost thirty years bicycles have had an exemption to the provincial service tax. This has always been good policy: it supports healthy living and less polluting transportation.
John Luton, a Victoria City Councilor and transit expert sums it up: "Cycling is our fastest growing mode of transportation, especially in Victoria and Vancouver. When it comes to cycling, Victoria is setting standards across the country demonstrating the viability of cycling as an environmentally friendly, convenient and low cost commuting alternative. During a time when governments across the world are looking at ways to encourage cycling, our government has imposed a brand new tax on bikes. It just doesn't make sense - and this decision must be reversed."
I want the government to withdraw the Bill creating the HST and develop a tax plan based on consultation and the will of the province. We just completed an election where the Liberals said in writing they were not contemplating a HST. Bringing it in now without a public debate is an affront to democracy.
I am asking every cyclist and environmentally-responsible person out there to sign the petition at www.saanichsouth.ca.
Member of the B.C. Legislative Assembly, Saanich South
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