(Advocate file photo).

Red Deer bars to get big break on business licence costs

But contractors could face muncipal penalties for breeching permit laws

Red Deer bar owners will get a drastic break on their business licence costs in 2019, while local contractors who breech permit bylaws could face penalties of up to $1,000.

Both issues are being brought before Red Deer city council on Monday.

Councillors will hear from administration that no good rationale was found for imposing higher business licence fees on drinking establishments than other businesses.

Municipal cleanup and enforcement costs associated with bars and taverns are not as significant as they once were, said inspections and licensing manager Erin Stuart.

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, patrons of downtown bars along Little Gaetz Avenue were blamed for littering, as well as creating disturbances through shouting and brawling.

Stuart said these are no longer issues. She attributes this to a reduction of drinking establishments in Red Deer compared to a decade or more ago, and the fact the remaining ones are not “clustered” in certain areas of the city.

Last fall, council approved a revamped business licence bylaw that was designed to be more “flexible, fair and equitable” for all businesses.

A fees and charges review was undertaken, considering a cost accounting and market analysis. The result supported significant reductions in certain categories.

Council determined drinking establishments should pay the same as other businesses to renew their annual licence — $108.

This is a huge cost saving for owners of drinking establishments with 500 or more patrons, who used to have to pay $5,000 a year. Owners of bars with 300 to 499 patrons previously paid $1,000 annually.

Also, there’s no longer a separate category for transient traders. Stuart said these are people who don’t live in the city or have a permanent Red Deer site, but set up temporary sales locations. These merchants will also pay $108 to sell their wares in the city, compared to a previous $825.

Council will consider amendments to the safety codes permit and development permit bylaws on Monday.

Stuart said the biggest proposed change is to implement municipal penalties for building contractors who fail to get required permits. Up to now, the city has had to take developers to court, and the court has set penalties.

If council approves the proposed changes, there will be graduated penalties, based on whether something is a first, second or third offence. They would range from $100 to $300 for failing to post a building permit at a construction site, to $250 to $1,000 for failing to obtain a completion report for safety codes in a building.


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