Along with putting the brakes on bicycle sales, the HST is curbing efforts to reduce traffic, pollution and ultimately health care costs, says a Vernon bike shop owner.
Peter Dorey, owner of Olympia Cycle, says when the harmonized sales tax came into effect almost one year ago it tacked on an additional seven per cent to everything that rolls out of his shop.
“Even if you get your bike fixed you’re paying seven per cent more,” said Dorey, of the tax that deters those who choose a healthier and greener mode of transportation.
“Instead of encouraging you’re discouraging. It just doesn’t make any sense.”
Under the old taxation, bikes, parts and repairs weren’t subject to PST, only five per cent GST. But HST has bumped the price an additional seven per cent.
Even helmets are subject to seven per cent more tax.
“So for your safety you have to pay extra,” added Nikki Inouye, former Okanagan-Shuswap federal NDP candidate. “And it’s the law to wear a helmet.”
Michelle Mungall, New Democrat MLA for Nelson-Creston, was in Vernon Monday to address the impacts of HST on small business
“A ‘yes’ vote to get rid of the HST in the upcoming referendum is good for small business and the communities who rely on them,” said Mungall.
As an example, she pointed to the impact of HST on restaurants, which were forced to tack an additional seven per cent onto customers’ bills.
Even though sales appear to have increased during that time (three per cent from June 2010 to January 2011 according to Statistics Canada), now servers are feeling the hit.
“I was speaking to a waitress recently and asked her has this impacted her tips,” said Mungall.
Inouye adds: “Even as a consumer, I don’t tip as much as I used to because my money is going towards my bill.”
Therefore between the $100 extra customers have to pay for a $1,500 bike to paying more for a gym membership and everything in between, Dorey says he knows exactly how he will cast his ballot – if it ever arrives due to the Canada Post lock out.
“Vernon is mostly made up of service-based businesses and the HST has hurt us, which impacts the community as a whole,” said Dorey.
“No HST persuasion campaign can change the fact that it’s a negative any way you slice it. I’m voting ‘Yes’ in the upcoming referendum to scrap the HST, for my business, for my friends and for my community.”
The average family paid $1,169 a year in sales tax under the PST/GST. Under the HST, that family now pays $350 more in sales tax, although there are rebates involved and the government’s pledge to reduce the HST to 10 per cent in the future.