Electric-bicycle buyers will be exempted from provincial sales tax while children 12 and younger will be able to ride public transportation for free in provincial budget measures aimed at protecting the environment.
Erin Clermont, co-owner of Russ Hay’s The Bicycle Shop on Hillside Avenue, expects the PST break will boost sales of e-bikes, already the fastest-growing category among bicycles and popular with year-round commuters, mountain bikers and fair-weather riders. “It has become a primary mode of transportation for a lot of people,” said Clermont, noting prices for e-bikes typically range from about $3,000 to $8,000.
An estimated $7 million in revenue will be lost annually with elimination of the PST on e-bikes.
Free public transit for children would cover municipal buses and the Lower Mainland’s Skytrain. The City of Victoria already offers free bus passes for youth ages six to 18.
Incentives for zero-emissions vehicles, electric charging stations, technological development, and the electriﬁcation of school buses and government fleets will cost $130 million.
The Go Electric program, which provides rebates for zero-emissions vehicles and charging stations, is receiving $94 million.
Another $18 million will go to active-transportation infrastructure such as bike lanes, sidewalks and multi-use pathways.
As well, $10 million will be devoted to further develop policy on reducing the carbon intensity of fuel and developing the hydrogen economy in B.C.
Merran Smith, executive director at Clean Energy Canada, said the province’s $500-million-plus in spending for environment-related programs helps to solidify B.C.’s role as a climate innovator.
She said $96 million designated for B.C.’s clean-tech sector will “help attract new innovators while incentivizing existing businesses to remain in the province, keeping jobs and economic benefits in B.C. for the long-term.”
“We also welcome the continuation of B.C.’s electric vehicle rebate program, but look forward to seeing how the rebate may be adjusted based on income and expanded to also include used EVs, so that more British Columbians can access the benefits of going electric,” Smith said
She said she wanted to see the province more strongly link its climate-change initiatives with the economy’s future.
“Canada’s largest trading partners, like the U.S. and the EU, have recognized the huge economic opportunity in transitioning to a net-zero world — as did the federal government’s budget released [Monday].
“We would have liked to see greater recognition of this net-zero opportunity in B.C.’s economic plan.” Net-zero means that the amount of greenhouse gases produced is balanced by the amount removed from the atmosphere.
B.C. has a huge competitive advance due to its clean-tech companies and clean electricity grid, Smith said.
“The province already produces many of the goods needed for the net-zero transition, from forest products to the metals and minerals required for electric vehicles.”
“But B.C.’s climate leadership to date does not guarantee future success. We look forward to seeing how the province will build on this budget and others to ensure it retains B.C.’s competitive edge.”