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Local reaction to HST reduction mixed

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
May 26th, 2011

The B.C. government’s plan to roll back the HST to 10- per cent (from the originally-planned 12 per cent) is getting mixed reviews in Castlegar.

  Finance minister Kevin Falcon announced a plan yesterday that would see the HST reduced in two stages, the first one-per-cent reduction coming July 1, 2012 and the second on July 1, 2014.  Castlegar and District Chamber of Commerce executive director Pam McLeod said she thinks the plan is sound.  “I think she (Premier Christie Clark) is correct when she states that the province has been shaken and people’s trust in the province has been lost,” she said, “but I think this (plan) is a positive step in the whole review process.  “I do understand the benefits of the HST, but there are sectors that are being negatively impacted,” she added. “This sort of mitigation is exactly what we’re looking for, but I’m still looking for more mitigation strategies, for example for the small businesses that are just barely scraping by and have no margin for increased expenses whatsoever.  “The bigger picture is being looked after, but there are small pieces we can’t afford to overlook.”  Meanwhile, local business owner Kevin Chernoff, of Trowelex, and business manager Dan Rye, of Kootenay Market, said they have reservations about the whole thing.  “Well, for starters, it still has to be legislated,” said Chernoff. “My real worry about reducing it is the same as my worry about removing it altogether: 10 per cent is great, as long as we’re not paying for it somewhere else. But I think we will pay, by losing programs and services.”  Rye concurred, arguing the government has to pay for said programs and services through taxes, whether the taxes are popular or not.  “If they roll it back or get rid of it (the HST), the money’s still got to come from somewhere,” he said. “After this, if people complain about cuts to services, the government has the perfect excuse: the people demanded it.”  British Columbians will be voting in a mail-in referendum on the HST. Ballots will be mailed in June and must be returned to Elections B.C. or a Service B.C. office by 4:30 p.m. on  July 22.

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