by Colin Smith
Morinville Town Council is considering eliminating annual licence fees for Morinville businesses.
At its regular meeting Tuesday council supported a motion put forward by Councillor Stephen Dafoe directing Administration to come up with a plan to “maintain business licensing requirements while removing the annual fee for residents and non-residents who operate home-based or brick-and-mortar businesses in Morinville.
The motion further stated that the plan should “include potential fiscal impacts, alternative funding mechanisms, and any necessary changes to existing bylaws or ordinances.”
Morinville’s current Business Law Bylaw, passed in January of this year, requires all businesses operating in the town to hold a business licence. Licences must be renewed annually.
Dafoe argues that the requirement to pay for a business license each year puts town businesses at a competitive disadvantage.
“Why should businesses in Morinville pay a $100 fee each and every year when so many so many businesses are coming to town and doing business without paying the fee?” he said. “What I’m trying accomplish is to eradicate the unfair playing field.”
Doing away with the $100 business licence fee would cost the town about $40,000 in revenue annually. Dafoe seeks an examination of the impact of that loss and possible sources of funding to replace those funds.
He favours maintaining licences as a mechanism for regulating development permits and business operational scope, and suggested there might be an initial cost for taking out a business licence that might drop for subsequent renewals.
Deputy Mayor Scott Richardson agreed that it was time for council to have a look at the issue.
“Business has changed a lot in the last 10 years and is changing,” he said. “We’re seeing the Amazons and the bigger box stores delivering in town.
“I think the discussion would be healthy about how we treat our brick-and-mortar businesses in Morinville, and I think something good may come of it.”
“People are ordering from Amazon and, yes, it does hurt the local economy, but they are doing it in the privacy of their own home,” Dafoe said, in closing.
“What I’m more interested is the electrician and the painter coming to town and not pulling a licence. Part of this is that we get those things.”
The motion was passed by council.
Currently the town makes available eight different types of business licences, including those for residents and non-residents, year-long, temporary and special events, with various fees. The year-long business licence for a Morinville resident is $100.
People operating businesses without a valid licence are subject to fines beginning at $200 for a first offence and escalating to $500 for second and subsequent offences, plus $250 for each additional day the offence continues.
A court injunction to close businesses that continue to be non-compliant may be sought.
A clause in the Business Licence Bylaw calls for it to be reviewed every year in connection with budget deliberations.