Strathcona Gardens fees remain the same despite removal of HST

Some in Campbell River are wondering why fees have not been reduced after the switch back to the PST, which is not charged on recreation

Strathcona Gardens admission fees have not gone down in price, despite the transition back to the PST, which has raised the ire of some local residents.

A Campbell River resident went to renew a seniors 10-visit facility pass card last month only to find the $36 fee unchanged, despite the removal of the 12 per cent HST (harmonized sales tax).

“It was my understanding that upon returning to the B.C. PST (provincial sales tax) April 1, 2013, recreation fees were again tax exempt,” wrote a resident, with his or her name blacked out, in a letter to the regional district.

Around the same time, Campbell River resident N.F. Jamieson wrote a letter to the editor, which appeared in the May 11 edition of the Mirror, expressing disappointment in the regional district’s decision to not lower the prices to reflect only the federal five per cent GST (goods and service tax) charge.

“With the recent seven per cent removal of HST from recreation facilities on April 1, the Strathcona Regional District has decided to keep the rate the same,” Jamieson wrote. “Zeroes to the various directors, including those Campbell River councillors (who sit on the regional district board), who have condoned it without actually advising the public.”

Tom Yates, acting chief administrative officer for the Strathcona Regional District, said the price listed has the tax already included.

“The fee in question is tax inclusive as set out in the Strathcona Gardens rates bylaw,” Yates said.

“This means that the amount paid by the customer is a fixed amount and independent of whichever tax regime happens to be in place at any given time. To put it another way, the regional district calculates the taxes owing based on program revenue and determines the amount that must be given over as taxes and the amount that it may keep to support operational costs for the facility, thus avoiding constant recalculation of ticket prices.”

That didn’t sit well with the anonymous letter writer to the regional district.

“The fee has always been tax inclusive, but the district no longer has to pay the provincial government seven per cent on recreational memberships,” wrote the Campbell River resident.

“So Strathcona district is virtually collecting an extra seven per cent since April 1, 2013. When do you plan to advise the citizens of Strathcona district of the seven per cent increase? Seems like a cash grab.”