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Would a Metro Vancouver PST hike push people to shop outside the region?

METRO VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – A sales tax hike to fund transit in Metro Vancouver would be fairly easy to avoid.

A spring referendum will ask Metro Vancouverites if they support a 0.5 per cent PST increase to pay for transportation upgrades and there’s some concern that move would make shoppers head to the Fraser Valley to make expensive purchases.

Greg Wilson with the Retail Council of Canada thinks big-ticket retailers may lose business from the crowd that is willing to go to extra lengths to save. He believes local retailers already lose that business to American stores.

But he says the positives will outweigh that. “Improved transportation infrastructure will bring customers to stores and the employees of stores. It will make it easier for those employees to get to work.”

Wilson says the concern is for retailers on the boundaries of the region. For example, grocery stores only blocks apart will charge different amounts in sales tax.

He is glad an issue as contentious as this one is being decided by consumers; a new tax is easier to swallow when it’s approved by the people paying it.