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HST change called good for local builders

It's early yet, but level playing field on HST expected to make a difference for construction industry
Duane Round: early indications seem positive from HST change.

The construction industry has been in the doldrums since the HST was defeated in a referendum last year, but that could be all set to change, says Duane Round.

The owner of Parkwest Construction and marketing director for the Oceanside Development and Construction Association said the provincial government’s move to ameliorate the transition period between the HST and PST will make a big difference for both buyers of new homes and the people who build them.

“I think it’s good news,” he said. “They made it very clear what the rules are going to be right now and in the transition to the PST and they’ve created a level playing field. It doesn’t matter if you buy a house now or wait until later, because the end result will be the same.”

Because of this, he said people planning to hold off on building a new home until the HST is gone no longer have to do so.

“It’s 100 per cent good news,” he said. “It has created a level playing field, which is what the construction industry was requesting.”

The comments came in light of an announcement that, starting on April 1, the province will raise the HST rebate threshold for new home buyers to $850,000, from the current $525,000, making more than 90 per cent of newly built homes eligible for a provincial HST rebate of up to $42,500.

The announcement was welcome news, in light of a marked downturn in District 69 building starts after the HST was defeated in a referendum.

Round said home construction sector in Oceanside had been ticking along nicely, despite the financial challenges faced in many sectors of the economy, until the HST referendum threw everything into disarray. The change, he said, was unmistakable.

“It had been pretty on a pretty good, steady pace in Oceanside throughout the world economic retraction, but then it almost came to a complete stop,” he said. “Sales in Oceanside for the last two months have been pretty low and sales of new homes have been abysmal in December and January,” Round said. “We’ve got to attribute some of that to the economy, but a lot of that, I believe, was to do with the HST defeat on the referendum and going back to the old system.”

However, ODCA president Denise Sakai was more cautious.

“It’s far too early to understand what the impacts are going to be on the transition of phasing out the HST,” she said.