Cyclists decry end of bicycle tax exemption
Published Tuesday, August 11, 2009 5:09PM PDT
Members of Vancouver Island's cycling community are speaking out against the upcoming harmonized sales tax, saying the additional tax will discourage people from using green transportation alternatives.
Bicycles have been PST exempt since 1981 in British Columbia, something that will change when the HST comes into effect in July 2010.
Speaking from a rally in Victoria Tuesday, John Luton of the Capitol Bike and Walk Society said with cycling on the rise in both Victoria and Vancouver, now is the wrong time to add a tax to green alternatives.
"It just doesn't make sense," Luton said.
"We've got a province that has a lot of green rhetoric around carbon tax but they're beating you up with the stick and then taxing the carrot. This is not a consistent policy approach."
Martin Clermont, owner of Russ Hay's Bicycle Shop in Victoria, says adding a seven per cent tax would be a "grievous increase" for a product that is already becoming more expensive to the consumer.
"The bike business is already being racked with cost increases. Currency fluctuations and transportation costs have elevated current bike prices anywhere from five to 20 per cent higher," he said.
"The taxing of bicycles flies in the spirit of getting people to commute."
Clermont is asking for the PST exemption on bicycles to be extended once the HST comes into effect.
New Democrat Leader Carole James said Gordon Campbell broke his election promise to tackle climate change by subjecting bicycles and other green-friendly transportation to HST.
"During the election, Premier Campbell promised not to bring in the HST and to take action to tackle climate change. With this one decision to impose a new 12 per cent tax on environmentally friendly alternatives like bicycles, the B.C. Liberals have put the lie to both those promises."
James says the issue of HST transcends political lines.
"You have people from all political parties, families, businesses, seniors, youth, all coming together to say the HST is going in the wrong direction," James said.
"People are angry. It's extraordinary when you take a look at the anger is building out there on the HST."
Since last week, more than 22,000 people have signed an NDP online petition to stop the HST from being implemented.
A growing backlash
Many B.C. business groups have voiced opposition to the plan to introduce HST.
The latest is B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair, who said Monday it would "further erode workers' paycheques" and bolsters the corporate bottom line.
A recent Angus Reid poll found 75 per cent of respondents disagree with the implementation of the HST, with disapproval particularly high in Metro Vancouver, Vancouver Island and the Southern Interior.
"The HST is a disaster for the Liberals," Mario Canseco told ctvbc.ca Monday.
"People are really upset about the situation and its very bad news for the party."
A growing Facebook group called No B.C. HST has more than 68,000 members.