Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
Angry retailers force town to rethink `flawed' licence bylaw
Publication:
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 13 Jan 2006, p. 1, 4


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After hearing from several disgruntled retailers Monday morning a Town of Halton Hills committee has decided to take another look at its new policy of charging retail establishments an annual licence fee. Last June, Halton Hills council passed a new business licence bylaw that for the first time in the Town's history saw retail businesses being charged an annual fee ranging from $82.50 to $220. Although the Town hosted two public meetings on the issue before they endorsed the new bylaw they didn't hear much from the businesses until after the first bills went out and the Town's bylaw officer attempted to collect the fees late last year. At a meeting Monday morning, members of the town's Business Licence Review Committee got the message loud and clear from several retailers (approximately 15 attended) that they were not happy with the fee. In the end, a motion was put forward by Mayor Rick Bonnette calling for a review by the committee of the portion of the business licence bylaw affecting retailers. The motion was endorsed, but a date has not yet been set for the meeting. Prior to the mayor's motion, John Vieira, owner of J.V. Clothing, called the licence fee "a money grab." He turned over a petition signed by more than 300 local retailers opposed to the licence fee. "The relationship between merchants and the town hasn't been good. I think it should be improved so the guys don't feel like they're being ripped." Georgetown Market Place manager Herminia Henderson complained that for the new annual fee the retailers are not getting any additional service from the town. Debbie Edmonds, manager of licensing and legislative services for the Town, said the fee covers the cost of administering the licence, and any inspections or approvals required. She explained part of the licensing fee covers the cost of consultation with the Ministry of Health inspectors, and some goes toward fire inspectors. Henderson pointed out that the mall has always had annual fire inspections. "The bylaw is driven for the consumer, for public health and safety," said Edmonds. Councillor Bryan Lewis balked at that notion of the licence being for consumer protection, calling it "way off base." "I don't think it's fair," said Henderson, who added that the Town of Milton, and the cities of Toronto and Hamilton do not charge their general retailers a licence fee. Henderson said the fact that homebased businesses are not being charged a licence fee is penalizing those retailers who operate from storefronts. "I think there are a lot of flaws in this," said Henderson, who stressed that the mall retailers "were really disappointed" because they weren't notified when the bylaw was being dealt with by council and a lot of retailers weren't aware of it. Both Henderson and Vieira also questioned the fact that there was little difference between what small retailers were being charged compared to large ones. Some of the retailers at the meeting complained about how staff from the Town's bylaw department approached them on the licensing issue, many upset with the fact Town staff showed up at their businesses during the busy holiday retail season, and went to the front of the line of customers to speak to them about the licence fee. "I apologize for that," said committee chair Councillor Clark Somerville. "They should not have been there at this time of the year." Others were upset that retailers that come into town for a short period of time, aren't required to pay a licensing fee. One retailer suggested retailers wouldn't mind paying a one-time registration fee to the Town, which seemed to be received positively by some others at the meeting. Committee member Moya Johnson said the decision to charge retailers a licensing fee was "difficult." "It wasn't made lightly. We really tried to make it fair and affordable and make an equal playing field." Johnson also said the committee made an error in not involving the mall retailers right from the start. Also endorsed at the meeting was a motion by Councillor Joan Robson directing Town staff to review enacting a mall kiosk licence that would cover a period of years.


Creator:
Tallyn, Lisa
Media Type:
Newspaper
Item Types:
Articles
Clippings
Photographs
Date of Publication:
13 Jan 2006
Subject(s):
Personal Name(s):
Bonnette, Rick ; Vieira, John ; Henderson, Herminia ; Edmonds, Debbie ; Lewis, Byran ; Somerville, Clark ; Johnson, Moya ; Robson, Joan
Corporate Name(s):
Georgetown Market Place ; Town of Halton Hills ; J.V. Clothing
Local identifier:
Halton.News.200086
Language of Item:
English
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
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Halton Hills Public Library
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Angry retailers force town to rethink `flawed' licence bylaw