The City of Parksville is re-writing its business licence bylaw, adding more categories and regulation, and increasing fees.
The current bylaw was created in 1991 and amended in 2009, but the report from staff says there are many new types of businesses and they need a new bylaw that “better meets the needs of a growing city.”
The current bylaw has 10 business categories, including broad groups like accommodation, retail and “all other,” and doesn’t deal much with regulation, which staff propose should be added.
The proposed bylaw would break those down into 62 new categories, with “retail” being divided into 11 specifics like convenience store, sales agent or money store.
The new categories allow different fees for different types of business, which director of administrative services Debbie Comis said should be increased to reflect the cost to the city, though they would still be supplementing the cost some.
Accommodation, for example, is currently charged a flat rate of $120 per year, per business which would be broken into eight categories, ranging from $50 for a bed and breakfast, to $25 per unit for campgrounds, apartments and mobile homes, up to a maximum $500 per year.
Most of the categories are now in the $150-plus range with several (banks, motels and hotels) at $500 and the highest at $2,000 for escort agencies and “body rub parlours.”
The staff report says they added the escort classification because “the city has been receiving inquiries about this type of business coming to Parksville.”
It doesn’t mention interest in establishing a body rub parlour, but defines it as a place where there is “…manipulating, touching or stimulating by any means, of a person’s body, or part thereof, but does not include medical, therapeutic or cosmetic massage treatment…”
Asked if council has any power to decide which businesses the city licences, Comis said “council cannot unreasonably withhold a license from an applicant,” but said they can revoke or suspend licenses if regulations are not being met.
If the categories don’t exist those businesses could apply under miscellaneous and only pay $150 a year. Including the categories gives the city more power to regulate and charge a lot more.
“And we’d be foolish not to recognize this already exists in the community,” mayor Chris Burger said after joking about the headlines their conversation might conjure.
Among other changes, the bylaw would add shopping malls as a business, rather than just the individual businesses within them and comes close to banning door to door sales.
The proposed bylaw will be sent to the chamber of commerce and downtown business association for comment and a revised bylaw will come back to council for consideration in the near future.