Thursday, April 08, 2010

Podunk Below the Masthead (Thursday, April 8, 2010)

The fight against the HST has its local launch, New mortgage rules leave some would be home owners confused and the Mayor outlines his recent efforts in the Community to Community sessions, some of the items from the Thursday newsfiles.

Daily News, front page headline story
PRINCE RUPERT COMMUNITY MEMBERS PETITIONING AGAINST HST -- The push against Gordon Campbell's plans to introduce the Harmonized Sales Tax in British Columbia has begun, as a number of Prince Rupert residents have taken on the challenge of the petition process required to try and stop its implementation. Locally petitions can be found at the Fisherman's Hall, King Coin Laundry and the Third Avenue Coffee Shop. As we outlined on the blog on Tuesday, the province wide campaign against the HST is being led by former Premier Bill Vander Zalm, who launched the petition drive in Gordon Campbell's home riding.

New mortgage rules will come into effect on April 19th and local real estate agents and bankers are finding that the new rules are proving confusing for would be home buyers, who are trying to determine what kind of mortgage they can now gain access to depending on what kind of property they are purchasing, whether for personal living requirements or investment potential

The Mayor provided the Daily News with the results of the latest Community to Community Forum, which took place last week in Prince Rupert and Kitkatla. The Northern View's report on the sessions was posted to their website on Tuesday.

The Sports section featured a preview of the weekend basketball tournament in Kitamaat, the sixth annual edition of the tournament which features games both in Kitmat and Kitamaat village.  

 (Daily News Archives for April 8, 2010 )

Prince Rupert community members petitioning against HST
Clarification of new mortgage rules
Mayor reflects on latest Community-to-Community Forum

The Northern View
Northern Health urges vigilance as the number of measles cases in B.C. grows -- With 26 cases of measles reported in the Lower Mainland and Interior, Northern Health issues a warning to be vigilant of any indications of the illness in the northwest (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Lax Kw' alaams School Bookkeeper Charges -- CFTK TV catches up to the Lax Kw'alaams story with some background on the process that led to charges being put forward (see article here)

CBC News British Columbia, Daybreak North 
Escort Fort Nelson--  Details on potential changes to a bylaw that could see escort services set up in the Northeastern BC city (listen to interview here)

Daybreak North is only posting selected items on their website now. The most recently posted items can be found on the archive page for Daybreak North click here

Daily News, front page, headline story
Prince Rupert community members petitioning against HST
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Thursday, April 8, 2010

Gina Clark of Prince Rupert is the regional captain for the Fight The HST campaign that kicked off across the province on April 6.

 “Twenty-four people have signed up in Prince Rupert and three on Haida Gwaii,” Clark said Wednesday at the Fishermen’s Hall.

On Wednesday Clark and some other volunteers put together petition packages for local volunteers and were going to distribute them later that day. And according to Clark, people can still register with Elections BC to be canvassers.

“They can sign up until the last day, July 5, to be canvassers,” she said.

Pretty early into the campaign Clark registered to be regional captain.

“I don’t want the HST because it’s going to hurt the people in the lowest income bracket.” Clark works part-time as a reporter for the Northern View, but has been looking for more work opportunities. Fellow canvasser, Andrew Laforest, is also looking for employment. “I don’t think we need the HST,” Laforest commented.

Petitions are located in King Coin Laundry, at the Fishermen’s Hall and at Third Avenue Coffee Shop.

North Coast MLA Gary Coons is registered as a canvasser. “MLAs can participate, but we have to do the petitioning on our own time,” Coons said.

A pamphlet contained in the canvassing package states that nearly a quarter of all goods and services in B.C. will be hit by the HST.

 “The HST will lead to job losses and many small businesses will be forced to close! The HST will increase the costs of sports, recreation and entertainment for everyone! Your hard earned dollar won’t go as far!,” notes the pamphlet.

Included in a list of things the HST will be charged on are school supplies, household maintenance, electricity and natural gas. Even membership for clubs, gyms and player fees for team sports are on the list.

Already the petition at the Fishermen’s Hall has two filled pages and the one at King Coin Laundromat has a couple.

“I’m worried about small business being hit hard. Sure the tenant might not be affected, but the landlord definitely will be impacted by the seven percent that’s going to be gone. It’s tough enough as it is already. People don’t realize, even gas is going to go up seven percent,” said Joe Gaber of King Coin. “It’s a long list and it’s scary,” he added.

The provincial government, however, says that while the tax may be unpopular with many, fear mongering has led to confusion about how it will affect consumers.

Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm said he understands some of the frustration people are feeling.

“I totally understand that and in fairness, I think there were a lot of people that were caught off guard.”

He said communication of the benefits of the tax could have been done more effectively.

 “That is one of the biggest problems with the HST or any new tax, is trying to get the information out and we can probably all agree that the information didn’t roll out with this announcement quite as quickly as it should have, so that is part of my program for the next little while.”

Pimm said individuals earning less than $20,000 per year and single mothers making less than $25,000 annually will actually benefit from the new regime, and that some of the fear mongering about huge increases in some areas are unfounded.

“Not everybody is going to like it, that is a fact, but I think that the more people know about it and when they understand that there has been a lot of fear factoring going on, that will help alleviate a lot of people’s minds.”

He acknowledged that someone in a similar financial situation to his own will pay more.

 “I ran my own numbers and I don’t deprive myself of virtually anything. I go to restaurants. I have golf and curling memberships and all that kind of stuff that more HST will be paid on. For me, it is somewhere between $600 and $800 per year that it is going to cost me extra.”

Pimm said competitiveness with Alberta businesses would not be affected by the HST.

 “I personally don’t see that as a big change, maybe it will happen, time will tell, but I just don’t see that as a major change. For our area and our small businesses, there are a lot of positives that go along with the HST and once people get past the fear and how things were rolled out, I think HST is the best tax, it is a lot better than the PST ever was,” said Pimm.

According to a press release, Bill Vander Zalm’s Fight HST Citizen Initiative petition launch yesterday exceeded all expectations for first day sign ups.

Elections BC would only issue the petitions on April 6th, so the first day was spent madly rushing to print and get petitions into the hands of canvassers. However, despite the challenges, thousands of signatures were gathered at several locations throughout the province, with Ft. St. John taking the prize with over 1,800 sign ups in one day – a new provincial record.

Alvin Stedel, Regional Organizer for The Peace, said they started at 8:00am yesterday and weren’t able to leave until 10:30pm when the deluge of voters slowed enough to do a final tally. They ended the day with a total of 1,820 signatures – over half the amount required for the North Peace’s overall petition target of 3,387 signatures representing 15% of registered voters there.

With files from Alaska Highway News

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