The City of Red Deer moved ahead with tightening licensing bylaws to reduce the chance of businesses profiting from crime.
New provisions for auto wreckers, scrap metal dealers and salvage yards in the municipal Business Licence Bylaw were given first reading on Tuesday by council — as were modifications to the requirements for pawn shops, brokers and second hand dealers.
Council was told that these changes would further allow the business community to help in crime reduction.
Scrap metal dealers and auto wreckers are already provincially regulated, required to ask for proof of identity from anyone selling parts, and then to record this information in case the parts turn out to be stolen.
Amy Fengstad, a parking and licensing supervisor for the city’s Inspections and Licensing department, told councillors that provincial spot audits and inspections are done infrequently.
By adding an additional municipal audit to the Business Licence Bylaw, Fengstad said the city is able to require the same data already collected “to be used and/or reported to RCMP or municipal policing to aid in efforts to reduce crime, and allow for enforcement should the business not follow regulations.”
Fengstad also proposed that the city balance rules to address inequities between the way pawn brokers and second-hand dealers are treated. Since many of the same concerns and challenges exist, related to stolen goods being brought in, she suggested that the regulations be made consistent for both businesses in terms of reporting and being able to sell new inventory.
Council was told these and other changes were done after consultation with businesses as well as the public.
The changes passed first reading. Mayor Tara Veer said the matter will not have to go to a public hearing, but the public is welcome to send in their input.
In late 2019 and early 2020, the city hosted public engagement sessions with more than 400 residents to discuss concerns about crime and community safety, and to collect ideas to reduce the crime rate.
“We took what we heard from the community, and compared it to our existing bylaw to understand what we could do to help influence real change,” said Fengstad.
Other changes to the bylaw include:
Added clarity for mobile business units and food services to help guide operations, including details around mobile unit parking opportunities.
Administrative changes to improve clarity and address shortcomings of the bylaw, including adding administrative fees to cover costs of lapsed, expired or late renewals, errors or additions to the business directory for exempt businesses.