While many sub-plots will surface in 2013, a potential provincial government change and the return to a two-pronged sales taxation system may have the greatest impact on Capital Region residents.
We can expect the B.C. Liberals, using their advantageous position as the party with the ability to make funding announcements – new or simply restated – to keep the pedal to the metal playing catchup to the NDP in advance of the provincial election in May.
Facing major budget challenges like all municipal governments, school boards and other public bodies, the Liberals have a tough job to deliver on promises of a brighter future for British Columbians – especially with experts forecasting flat growth for B.C.
One area where Greater Victoria will see the seeds of growth, however, is in the shipbuilding and ship repair industry. The development of Seaspan’s facilities in Esquimalt and increased capacity at Victoria Shipyards parallel the training of prospective workers at the nearby Industrial Marine Training and Applied Research Centre.
All of us will be affected by the switch back from the 12 per cent harmonized sales tax to the combination of provincial sales tax (seven per cent) and GST (five per cent). While some estimates put household expenses at around $350 higher annually under HST, it remains to be seen whether consumers will save that much money after the change is implemented.
People who eat out often may realize the most savings, as the food service industry goes back to charging GST only.
Another brighter note is that despite the gloomy predictions, shopping options continue to expand for those with money to spend. Not only does Uptown continue to lease new retail space, the Hillside Centre expansion is moving along, and changes are afoot at Tillicum Mall, with Target coming on board.
Like many consumers, however, independent shops and chain stores in other retail centres in places like the West Shore and downtown Victoria hope to hang on and stay positive through an uncertain 2013, as the economy shuffles forward.