(Advocate file photo).

Red Deer city council aims to force larger non-profits to become more accountable

New bylaw defines which not-for-profits must pay for a business licence

Requiring larger non-profit groups — including social service agencies — to purchase business licences will keep them accountable to the city of Red Deer and its citizens, said Coun. Vesna Higham.

“I don’t want to single any operator out,” said Higham at Monday’s city council meeting. But, with all the social disorder problems in the community — including complaints of “garbage and needle debris, theft and loitering” — she added it’s time the city held social service agencies to the same standards as other ventures.

Higham didn’t name Turning Point, which will be operating the supervised drug consumption site that’s expected to open in the Rail Lands this spring. But council gave the group a seven-year operating licence based on multiple conditions, including daily cleanups of the area.

Turning Point, which must reapply for operating approval in 2025, was previously cautioned by council to not break the community’s trust.

As of last September, all larger non-profits in Red Deer have been required to purchase a business licence so they can be held to certain terms and conditions, the same as any other business.

On Monday, city council unanimously endorsed a bylaw amendment that laid out which kinds of non-profits will be paying $108 a year for a business licence (those with paid staff and which occupy a commercial space), and which are exempt (home-based shoe-string operations with no paid staff, such as sports teams or school fundraising groups).

Coun. Tanya Handley said she was satisfied that the Business Licence Bylaw adequately differentiates between larger non-profits working out of commercial spaces and smaller ones that might be stretched to pay the $108 annual fee.

The bylaw will come back to council for second and third reading Feb. 4.


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