The jury is out in the Alberni Valley on how the HST vote is going to impact local business.
The HST was voted down in a mail-in ballot by British Columbians and announced last week.
There will be no initial impact at city hall for 18-24 months but after that the ground will begin to settle.
“At this point nothing will change,” city finance manager Cathy Rothwell said.
When the dust settles, though, there will be some impact.
Goods and services that the city utilizes —such as electrical, contracting and other outside accounting services— will be affected.
Presently, when a service is purchased by the city only the HST is paid.
Later, PST won’t be charged on the service but GST will.
Parks and recreation admission will be impacted as well.
The GST will be charged on admission prices after the conversion.
There will also be a cost to reverting back to the old system.
“We’ll have to adjust our software, financial program and all city point of sale equipment,” Rothwell said.
While the city has some idea of how the HST vote will roll out practically, some small business owners aren’t as sure.
“I have no idea of how this is going to impact us,” Cutting Edge Bikes and Boards owner Pol Quinn said.
Previously, only the one tax would be charged on the sale of a bicycle.
Under the HST though, taxes on bike sales went from five to 12 per cent.
Rebates will be impacted as well. “Under the GST we could claim for the five per cent GST back and under the HST we can claim for 12 per cent back,” Quinn said.
“Who knows how it’s going to go going back,” he added.
The HST was a good idea executed badly, Port Alberni Chamber of Commerce president Neil Malbon said.
“I supported the B.C. Chamber of Commerce’s decision to favour the HST,” Malbohn said.
The HST reduced the paperwork burden, stimulated competitiveness, and required only one body to report to.
“It made sense to have it,” Malbon said. “The government didn’t consult with business or the public though and you reap what you sow.”
With the vote rendered attention now turns to what’s next, Alberni-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser said.
“Christy Clark has talked about a Plan-B. “Fraser said.
I don’t know what that is but she better implement it very quickly.”
Cuts to government services have been hinted at.
“But if the Liberals try to punish B.C. voters for the HST vote we’re going to hold them accountable,” Fraser said.
“If they thought they had a fight with the HST then this would bring it to a whole other level.”
A total of 16,689 people voted on the HST referendum in the Alberni Pacific-Rim electoral district. The results were: 10,665 voted yes (63.90 per cent in favour of extinguishing the HST) and 6,024 voted no.