Half of 3 million HST ballots returned

More than 1.6 million voters sent in their ballots for B.C.'s referendum on the harmonized sales tax, a participation rate that matches the 51 per cent turnout for the 2009 B.C. election.

VICTORIA – More than 1.6 million voters sent in their ballots for B.C.’s referendum on the harmonized sales tax, a participation rate that matches the 51 per cent turnout for the 2009 B.C. election.

Elections BC sent out just over three million ballot packages starting in June, then extended the deadline for returning them by two weeks after a labour dispute at Canada Post delayed distribution.

Temporary staff at Elections BC are working seven days a week in two shifts, intending to have the ballots verified and counted by the end of August. A simple majority of votes cast will decide whether B.C. keeps the HST and lowers the rate by two points to 10 per cent in the next three years, or reinstates the former seven per cent provincial sales tax on top of the five per cent federal GST.

Acting chief electoral officer Craig James said the time extension increased the cost of the referendum by $500,000 but the total cost is estimated to be $8.9 million, well under the initial estimate of $12 million.

The only other mail-in referendum in B.C. was the 2002 vote on aboriginal treaty principles, which saw a return of 790,182 votes, about one third of the total sent out.

Just Posted

Sailings filling up on Northern Sea Wolf

There is a strong demand for the service

New ownership group presents Mount Timothy Resort plans

‘More activity and more people on the hill means more fun’

Thunderstorms in forecast for much of Cariboo Chilcotin

Special weather statements, concerns of flash flooding, for southern B.C. regions

Two Nuxalk artists awarded YVR Art Foundation scholarships

Several Nuxalk artists have won the award, some more than once

Concerns over democracy as Senate committee votes to nix oil tanker ban

Critics of the Senate’s recommendation to kill Bill C-48 say it goes against popular will

REPLAY: The best videos from across B.C. this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week in the province

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen found in torched SUV

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

Most Read