Municipalities in the Peace Region are a mulling a move to implement a new business licence program that officials say will make it easier for mobile businesses to operate across the region.
Several local governments are poised to move ahead with the province’s mobile business licence program, including Fort St. John, Taylor, and Hudson’s Hope. It allows for businesses such contractors and caterers to operate across participating municipalities without having to buy individual licences for each community where they do business.
The District of Taylor, which currently does not require business licences, voted to adopt the program with a new bylaw at a council meeting Monday night. The program would be voluntary, and the district isn’t moving to implement a full licensing regime, Mayor Rob Fraser said.
“We feel the program is useful enough to businesses in Taylor that we should become part of the program and offer the program to businesses in Taylor in the event they want to participate,” he said.
It means that contractors such as plumbers that are based in Taylor could register for a licence in the district and be able to work in other municipalities in the region who have adopted the program.
“Let’s just say a plumber who operates his business out of Taylor but wants to work in any of the communities that are participating, they pay a one-time fee and they have that business licence that’s good for Fort St. John, Hudson’s Hope, Chetwynd, and I think Dawson Creek is participating as well,” Fraser said.
“It saves them some money, it saves them some red tape with respect to applying for business licences in those other communities and it just for that reason it’s a benefit to them.”
Licences cost $130 under the program, while eligibility and exclusion is decided by partnering communities. This allows local governments to choose the business types that would benefit their communities, reducing red tape and administrative burden.
The District of Hudson’s Hope intends to adopt the program as well and is set to adopt a bylaw at an upcoming meeting. It excludes social escort services, vehicles for hire such as taxis or buses, mobile food vendors, fruit stands, trade shows, and door-to-door salespeople.
“Businesses based in Hudson’s Hope, which also operate in nearby communities, won’t have to buy a separate licence from the other communities,” Mayor Gwen Johannson said.
“Likewise businesses based in other communities which offer services here will only have to purchase one licence for the area. So it streamlines the licensing and should be beneficial to everyone.”
The City of Fort St. John has given the first two readings of a bylaw to adopt the program and will hold a public meeting March 27 at city hall at 6 p.m. Ninety-four mobile businesses could fall under the program, city development director Ken Rogers said.
Business licensing would still apply for local companies not doing business in other communities, he added.
“A lot of our businesses are mobile,” Mayor Lori Ackerman said. “If they are mechanics, or in servicing, or any kind of business like that, they’re definitely going to cross jurisdictional lines.”