WATCH: It could be more ammunition tonight for the forces who want a no vote on the upcoming transit referendum that would impose a half-percent increase in the sales tax. Ted Chernecki reports why some retailers are worried about a consumer exodus out of Metro Vancouver
With a transit referendum on the horizon, some retailers worry of a possible exodus out of Metro Vancouver to places like Abbotsford where gas costs around 84 cents a litre.
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“It’s almost a mini-United States,” says Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “There’s a reason why we’ve seen the highest number of crossings into Whatcom County since the mid-90s. We’re seeing a similar outflow of people to Abbotsford and Mission to buy cheap gas and soon cheaper goods.”
READ MORE: Which people and groups are for and against the transit referendum?
If the transit referendum–which proposes raising the PST to 6.5 per cent to fund transit projects–is approved, Abbotsford and other areas outside the transit tax region could become a bigger bargain, meaning some shoppers may be willing to trek outside of Metro Vancouver for better deals.
For instance, purchasing a $40,000 vehicle outside the transit tax region could result in savings of $200.
“You can imagine on a Genesis that a $53,000 car, it’s $300,” says Frank Quigg, sales manager at Abbotsford Hyundai. “It’s well worth it for someone to make the extra drive to come to Abbotsford. It’s not that far for most people.”
READ MORE: TransLink ridership down, higher fares blamed
Those pushing for a yes vote are already asking the provincial government to sort out these issues before the vote takes place in March.
“It should be dealt with in exactly the same way that we deal with people who go across the border to Washington to buy a car,” says John Winter, CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce. “They come back and they pay the local tax on that. They don’t pay Washington tax. It’s really where the car is registered that will be the criteria. That should solve all these problems.”
WATCH: The transit referendum is going to be a tough sell. Keith Baldrey reports on the ‘yes’ side’s strategy.