The Lloydminster Chamber of Commerce is being optimistic before jumping to conclusions about a potential sales tax in the province of Alberta.
Pat Tenney, executive director of the Lloydminster Chamber of Commerce, said that while the board has not met to discuss the potential ramifications of a sales tax to the Border City, the city would adapt if any changes were done.
“I definitely think it would be a change,” she said. “If a PST would be introduced I think that we would have to find different ways of collecting it within our city, which the Border City is not equipped to do that right now.”
Tenney said that she isn’t sure what effects a potential PST would have on the business community.
“I’m really not sure if it’s going to make a huge difference to our community.”
The idea of a sales tax for the province of Alberta was floated after Premier Jim Prentice announced that all options were on the table for new revenue sources, due to falling oil prices.
The Saskatchewan side of the Lloydminster had a provincial sales tax up until 2000, when the city of Lloydminster and the Chamber of Commerce lobbied the government of the day to allow the Saskatchewan side of the city to be exempt of any PST within the city borders.
“In order to make it a level playing field for the city of Lloydminster,” she said. “Otherwise, we would not have seen the development on the Saskatchewan side. In about 2000, the city and the chamber brought the provincial (Saskatchewan) finance minister (NDP Eric Cline) to the city, and visually showed him how the city was developing on the Saskatchewan side compared to the Alberta side.
“That was about to time that Saskatchewan was placing PST on a wide range of new products and businesses,” she added.
“So, the minister was able to see that development, and he declared that only within the city boundaries of Lloydminster there wouldn’t be PST on commercial building products and products,” Tenney said.
If the province of Alberta goes ahead with an implementation of a PST, Tenney doesn’t know if the city would lose the benefit of Saskatchewan shoppers coming to Lloydminster because of its tax free zone.
“I think that we have people who come to Lloydminster to shop because of not having to pay for the PST,” she said. “But it will all depend on what the amount of the PST would be that may or may not be introduced.”
The entire province of Saskatchewan, with the exception of the city of Lloydminster, currently pays five per cent PST.