Debating the facts of yes and no

MLA Norm Macdonald and President of the Columbia River Revelstoke BC Liberal riding association talk about the HST and more.

The debate over the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) and how it is affecting communities is being debated by many people in the province of British Columbia as referendum packages are being sent out to voters.

One of the issues facing voters is what facts being presented are the ones to sway their vote.

Doug Clovechok is the president of the Columbia River Revelstoke BC. Liberal  riding association has said that the way that MLA Norm Macdonald raises questions about the facts he has presented to the people of his riding.

“Nathaniel Hawthorne said that ‘accuracy is the twin brother of honesty; inaccuracy, of dishonesty’ and Norm Macdonald’s latest HST debacle published on June 29, 2011 has nothing but inaccuracies in it and thus, according to Hawthorne, paints him as a dishonest twin,” Clovechok said. “According to Macdonald the HST ‘has resulted in the cancellation of a key funding stream to Resort Municipalities’. To put it mildly this is not true and is disingenuous.”’

Clovechok explained that between 2007 and 2009 the Kootenay communities of Revelstoke, Golden, Radium Hot Springs, Invermere and Kimberley were designated Resort Municipalities each with 5 year agreements with the province and funded through what is known as the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI).

The original Resort Municipality revenue sharing agreements allowed municipalities to accumulate funds for large projects and when the HST was implemented the Hotel Room Tax associated with the agreements was cancelled.

“This change however has not resulted in “lost funding”, as Macdonald would have you believe, as the province committed to continued funding for the RMI in the 2010 Budget from other government revenues; revenues that are distributed through a grant process.” Clovechok said.

“To date and since the implementation of the HST (July 2010- July 2011) RMI payments through the new process that have been awarded include $448,943 to Revelstoke, $551,408 to Golden, $143,408 to Radium Hot Springs, $231,735 to Invermere and $94,405 to Kimberley. These funds clearly demonstrate the inaccuracy of Macdonald’s statement when he cites that” local communities have been left in the lurch” because of the HST.”

Macdonald has a different view on the effects of the HST on areas like Golden and the others mentioned above.

“What they were able to do with the funding stream before the HST? It allowed them to save up for the bigger projects. There is a mechanics to that type of taxation that allows them to do things like Spirit Square and other signage projects. It was flexible in that way.” he said. “

What the Liberals are saying is that there are grants in place. But what we are seeing through the grants is that they come and they go. If you remember the past year just how many grants were guaranteed that were supposed to be there and just went away,” Macdonald added.

Macdonald went on to explain the current Liberal Government has created a huge fiscal problem and he expects them to be cutting funding in the future.

“The Liberals are asserting that there is some sort of dependability with these grants but there is not,” he said. “What you have done is taken a program that has worked and basically taken it to pieces. It is one of the unintended consequences of the introduction of the HST and is an example of how poorly thought through this initiative was.”

Clovechok sees the changes being made in the HST as something that will benefit many communities in the province.

“In relation to the Municipal and Regional District Hotel Room Tax, the government in Budget 2010 announced the continuation of the two percent tax which in turn provides benefit to about 50 communities participating in the program; in 2009 – 2010 approximately $27 million was raised through this program and the estimate for 2010/2011 is $30 million. This money goes to Resort Municipalities and is being used to finance community facilities such as the new all-season washroom facility and concession at Kinsman beach in Invermere, construction that will begin this fall,” Clovechok said.

From his perspective Macdonald does not see any way under the rules of the HST to use the grant system as a way to replace the hotel tax that was previously in place.

As for the debate over the HST Clovechok said “Macdonald and the NDP are far from the pulse of British Columbians, are not capable of offering accurate HST information and insist on playing partisan politics with people’s emotions. So a word of advice; just being “nice” is no longer working for you Norm as your constituents demand tangible truth; opinion with accuracy brings a far more palatable “twin”, I will be voting NO to extinguish the HST.”

Macdonald feels the idea that he is playing with people’s emotions is not an accurate statement.

“It is absolutely unfair. What people have told me from the beginning is basically the things I have been saying. People here are unhappy with how this tax was introduced and it causes all sorts of problems for communities particularly in this area. We are near the border so we are impacted by the proximity to Alberta. Mr. Clovechok himself has said that the tax has devastated the second home market. We also have the predominance of Resort Municipalities in this area…I can tell you that people here understand the effect of the tax. People here have told me how they expect me to vote on the tax to represent them on this issue and that is what I am doing,” Macdonald said.

When asked about the effects of the HST on secondary homes Clovechok said, “there is no question that HST has had an negative effect on the sale of secondary and recreational properties in CRR, saying different would make me a liar.  With that said the government is looking at ways to mitigate the HST effect on new pre HST builds thus putting them back into a competitive position.  In terms of the downturn in sales the HST is only a factor in what I call “a perfect storm”.  Clovechok said.

He went on to say in his opinion one of the major issues is the fact, “The US is for sale at rock bottom prices and investors that used to look to our area first are looking south for deals that have never been seen before.  The recession of 2009 is itself still alive and well, especially in rural areas where disposable local incomes still remain far below the boom years we have experienced.  The HST is a new and good tax that needs some creative renovations…I have said that it was not well planned by the former Premier nor was it implemented in a way that is acceptable, especially to the current Premier.  As a result she has taken some bold measures to put in some corrections.  Properties are still selling including raw lots and land which tells us that the HST is not stopping investors from spending their money in our riding”.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The southern mountain caribou, an iconic species for the Splatsin First Nation, is threatened with extinction, much to the dismay of the First Nation. (Province of B.C. photo)
Splatsin First Nation concerned over dwindling caribou herd

Southern mountain caribou at risk of extinction, will struggle to recover without habitat protection and restoration action - report

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

Five-year-old Bayne Krause poses for a photo with his mom Marianne. Bayne’s shirt reads, ‘I have Cystic Fibrosis. Help keep me healthy, please social distance.’ Photo: Laurie Tritschler
West Kootenay mom promotes awareness of cystic fibrosis

Marianne Krause wants people to know what it’s like for her five-year-old son to live with CF

A rolled-over semi along Highway 95. The RCMP have responded to nine collisions in the last month. (Brain Duchovnay photo)
Golden/Field RCMP recap last two months

The RCMP responded to 463 calls to service over the last two months

Details will be made available in the next few days. (File photo)
UPDATED: Community vaccine program to open in Golden

The clinic will be held from Saturday, May 8 until Sunday, May 16.

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
UPDATE: Winfield road open following police, coroner investigation

Pelmewash Parkway closure near Highway 97 connection

Kelowna resident Sally Wallick helped rescue a kayaker in distress a week and a half ago. (Sally Wallick/Contributed)
VIDEO: Kelowna woman rescues capsized kayaker in Okanagan Lake

Sally Wallick is asking people to be prepared for the cold water and unpredictable winds

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

RCMP (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
High-risk takedown on Highway 1 following Shuswap shooting

Upon further investigation, the vehicle and its occupants were not associated with the shooting

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Most Read