Red Deer city council will explore partnerships to advocate for provincial changes to reduce the negative impact of payday loan businesses on the working poor.
On Monday, council voted six to two in favour of a notice of motion to look at partnering with the City of Calgary, the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and Central Alberta Poverty Reduction Alliance.
City administration proposed the resolution, which amended the original motion put forward by councillors Paul Harris and Ken Johnston on July 20.
Johnston and Coun. Buck Buchanan voted against the amended resolution.
Harris is on a leave of absence from council while he pursues the federal NDP nomination for Red Deer-Mountain View.
Harris and Johnston had called on the city to advocate that the province repeal the Payday Loans Regulation and revert to the federal Criminal Code interest rate maximum of 60 per cent per year, and further to reduce interest rate levels below the federal 60 per cent maximum.
They also wanted the city to investigate changes in the licensing and bylaws to limit the distance between a payday loan business and liquor stores, gambling facilities and bars, all places that may contribute to poverty, addictions and self-harm.
Setting up a micro lending or community banking system was another option to explore.
Mayor Tara Veer said the payday loan business is shifting more to an online presence so regulating the distance between these businesses and gambling facilities, for example, is more a moot point.
“When I look at all the planning priorities, I think council landed in the right place in dealing with this from an advocacy perspective and not from the planning perspective,” Veer said.
Regulations for payday loan businesses come up for provincial review in 2016.