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Update from the House

Dear Cycling Community,

The fight to stop the HST in the Legislature is coming down to the wire. The government will likely push through the legislation it needs for the HST in a vote today. (That doesn’t mean the public campaign is over – Bill Vanderzalm’s petition against the HST is ongoing and you can find out more about that at Elections BC.)

On your behalf, I continue to argue in the Legislature that ending the PST exemption on bikes, bike supplies and repairs – which effectively creates a new 7% tax on cycling - is a mistake.

Below is a video clip of what I said yesterday afternoon in the House to the Colin
Hansen, Minister of Finance. (The transcript follows.)

There are many actions this government could take now to encourage cycling. Whatever happens with the HST, please know that I will continue to work as hard as I can to make BC bike-friendly again!

Lana Popham, MLA

Bill 9 Debate - Hansard Clip, April 28, 2010

Transcript from Hansard

L. Popham: My questioning is around the sales of bicycles and bike parts and repairs in British Columbia. It would seem that bike sales, repairs and parts would fit in within a climate change action plan and the green agenda that are spoken about in this House, as well as it going towards supporting a reduction in our health care budget. I know there was no consultation within this retail sector or consumer group, and there's been huge backlash by people who support cycling in British Columbia. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

I've created a website and a database that reaches the majority of bike shops in B.C. as well as thousands and thousands of cyclists. This group is a very potent constituency, in my view. I know that the minister's answer, when I ask a question, will be directed at me, but the answer will be clipped and sent out immediately to thousands and thousands of people in British Columbia who don't understand why an exemption for bicycles won't be brought in. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

My question is: why did bicycles not meet the prescribed circumstance to meet as a qualifying property? [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Hon. C. Hansen: As we discussed earlier with her colleague, the Finance critic — in fact, he raised it — under the provisions that were set out by the federal government, there's a maximum of 5 percent of the GST tax base that can be unique for provincial-only HST exemptions — so those items that are subject to GST but that can be exempted from the provincial portion of the HST. We have maxed out the number of the items that we can use within that 5 percent. For us to have considered any other product, we would have had to bump some things off that list. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

L. Popham: It would seem that given the talk about reducing our carbon emissions, bicycles should have fit into that 5 percent. Can the minister tell me why bicycles were not fit into the 5 percent that we were given? [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Hon. C. Hansen: With the six items that we chose for the exemption, it used up all of that 5 percent room. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

L. Popham: How was that decision made on those items? [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]
Hon. C. Hansen: With regard to the first five items, they actually were the items that the province of Ontario chose. We looked at those, and we were encouraged, to whatever extent possible, to model our exemptions after the same so that there could be consistency and ease of administration. In addition to that, we still had additional room and we made the decision to exempt prescribed motor fuels. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

L. Popham: Can the minister tell me how much additional revenue the government will get by taxing bikes, bike parts and repairs? [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Hon. C. Hansen: That would be outside of the scope of this question, but I do not have that information with me. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]


Thank you for visiting squeakywheels.ca! I created this website to bring together cyclists from across BC who wanted to voice their opposition to the government’s decision to impose a new tax on cycling.

For almost thirty years, bikes (and bike expenses like repairs, helmets and locks) have been PST exempt. Why? Because successfive governments agreed it made no sense to tax such a healthy and environmentally-friendly form of transportation.

This rationale has only become stronger over time as we’ve learned more about the benefits of healthy living and the importance of reducing our carbon emissions. The more we can encourage people to ride bikes rather than drive cars, the better it is for everyone. It means less traffic congestion, less wear and tear on our roads and potentially lower health-care costs.

I wonder if the B.C. government can explain how jacking up the price of a bike is going to help make B.C. more sustainable or encourage people to make healthy lifestyle choices. How does this possibly advance B.C.’s Climate Action Plan?

A government that increases taxes on green transportation is traveling in the wrong direction.

I am of the view that we need to create incentives for green transportation and disincentives for more polluting forms of transportation. Standing up for cyclists as an Opposition MLA is one way that I can help keep the pressure on.

While we were unsuccessful in stopping the government from imposing the HST (on bicycles) we were part of a larger movement that has successfully kept alive the opposition to the HST.

Cyclists continue to argue that tax increases on green transportation options - like cycling - are a mistake. We are calling for provincial policy changes which will create incentives for people to choose greener ways to travel.

I will continue to make these arguments in and outside of the BC Legislature and I welcome your input and support.

Lana Popham
MLA Saanich South