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YEAR IN REVIEW September: Mission votes out the HST

The Sept. 1 issue of The Record announced the results of the harmonized sales tax referendum in British Columbia, with many Missionites following the provincial trend to “extinguish” it.

According to the results released by Elections BC, 54.63 per cent of 18,106 voters in the electoral riding of Abbotsford-Mission voted to keep the tax, while 55.8 per cent of 19,219 voters in the electoral riding of Maple Ridge-Mission voted to get rid of it.

Mission business owner Ted Adlem, a former director on the board of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, welcomed the news.

“I would say the people have spoken, and had the government listened to begin with, they wouldn’t have put the people in a position where they had to speak,” he said.

Adlem said the restaurant industry instantly saw between a seven and eight per cent reduction in sales when the HST was introduced.

But Carlo Billinger, co-owner of Rex Cox Men’s Wear on First Avenue, was sorry to see the results.

“The HST worked a little fairer for my business in the respect that everybody was paying the same tax,” he said, before adding he wasn’t surprised with the results.

“They should have taken it off food, and haircuts and beauty products and kept it at 12 (per cent) just the way it was and I think people would have been more receptive to it.”

Abbotsford-Mission MLA Randy Hawes didn’t think regional voting results was linked to party support.

“I don’t read anything into any of that, it’s just people’s personal feelings about whether they think the tax was good or bad,” he said.

“People look at their personal thing and they don’t look at the big picture, and unfortunately in B.C. this is going to impact business, and business is where jobs come from.”

Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce manager Michelle Favero said the chamber is looking forward to a decisive provincial tax strategy that is equitable for all British Columbians.

“The Mission chamber’s position on the HST has been neither for nor against. We recognized that some members definitely benefitted and others were hit hard by the transition, certainly in the restaurant and tourism industry,” she said.

The tax changes won’t be noticed in Mission businesses, or the rest of B.C., right away, with the province estimating it could take until March 2013 before the PST is fully restored in the province.

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