The incoming harmonized sales tax (HST) will put community recreation programs out of reach for low- and fixed-income families, the NDP said yesterday.

When the HST comes into effect next July, it will tack on an additional seven per cent to rental costs for community centres across the province. That increase will be passed down to community centre users through higher registration and program fees, said Jenny Kwan, NDP MLA for Vancouver-Mt. Pleasant.

“It is hypocritical for the government to say on the one hand that they want to get people active, to live a healthy lifestyle … and at the same time increase costs for British Columbians to access sports venues,” Kwan said.

Vancouver residents will have to shell out $3 million extra to access community recreation facilities and programs once the HST takes effect, said Loretta Woodcock, Vancouver Park Board commissioner.

“We’re seeking an exemption for recreational fees,” she said. “To say we want to get people more active and then discourage them from physical activity with the HST is counterproductive.”

Kwan said the NDP has collected more than 100,000 signatures for the anti-HST petition it will present in the legislature.

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