It took council about two hours to rubberstamp a decision it made two weeks ago.
After an hour-long debate two weeks ago and a split vote, council decided to rescind an earlier decision to require individual business licences for secondary suites or rental properties. There was immediate backlash as, for example, a resident with three rental homes would be forced to pay the $155 business licence fee for each property while the owner of an apartment block would only be required to have one business licence. Prior to implementation of the bylaw, residents with more than three rental properties would be required to have a business licence.
Council was presented with three options two weeks ago and chose to return to what the fees were prior to January 1. As it was a bylaw change, however, it meant having a public hearing, which came before council Monday, with several speakers voicing their thoughts.
“Being a landlord is not easy, and it’s not for everyone,” said landlord Niki Korolec. “I have no issue with the intent of the licence, what I have the issue with is the licence itself and the fees associated with it.”
She recognized that the city needs a way to deal with problem landlords, but do that without penalizing good landlords.
Landlord Lee Stewart, however, who lives in the VLA, said the $155 fee was not onerous for landlords and it would give the city a tool to deal with bad landlords.
“This was a revenue generator, that’s how it started,” said Coun. Lyn Hall.
He added his concern was that the bylaw was still complaint-driven and how staff would deal with administering the bylaw.
“I think we got it right last July,” said Mayor Shari Green, adding it was about giving the city another tool to deal with problem landlords.
The motion to revert back to the way it was prior to January 1, 2014 passed with councillors Frank Everitt, Murry Krause, Brian Skakun, Garth Frizzell, and Lyn Hall supporting, while Green and councillors Cameron Stolz, Dave Wilbur, and Albert Koehler opposed.