Pawn shops are still a no-go in downtown Mission.
On Monday night, acting Mayor Ken Herar made a motion asking staff to provide a report on why pawn shops are no longer permitted to open downtown and get a statement from the Downtown Business Association as to whether it would support an amendment to the zoning bylaw to permit pawn shop use again.
However, his motion was met with stiff opposition and was defeated by a 5-1 vote.
Herar said he brought the motion forward because he believes the issue deserves further discussion
He said many people have approached him saying council has been “too heavy-handed” and even discriminatory. Herar called pawn shops legitimate businesses that are listed as essential services.
Coun Jag Gill said while he agrees they are legitimate businesses, he doesn’t want to see more of them downtown.
“I want to see Mission diversify the businesses that they bring to the community. I want to see other businesses come.”
Current downtown zoning does not permit pawn shops, other than the existing ones which were left legally non-conforming. The result is that no new pawn shops can open and existing pawn shops cannot move or increase in size.
Coun. Cal Crawford said he was against the motion, noting that the low square footage costs downtown could attract more pawn shops.
“I would hate to see our downtown numbers increase in pawn shops and I think that would be a very real danger if we altered the bylaw at this time,” said Crawford.
Herar said he was just asking for a report and questions if councillors really believe more pawn shops would come into town if the bylaw was altered.
“Why would we take the risk?,” asked Crawford
Couns. Carol Hamilton and Danny Plecas were also against the idea.
“I’m totally, totally opposed,” said Plecas, noting the district invested $4 million to improve downtown and to promote family-friendly shopping.
“We certainly don’t want to entertain the idea to bring pawn shops downtown.”
Mission City Pawn Shop:
The decision not to reopen the zoning bylaw prevents the owner of Mission City Pawn Shop from relocating his business.
Corey Sidon, owner of Mission City Pawn Shop, currently leases the building at 33025 First Ave., where his shop is located. In 2019 he purchased the old bookstore at 33017 First Ave., directly beside his store.
Sidon’s plan was to move the pawn shop into the building they now own, rather than continue to pay rent at the current location.
The bylaw, which was created by the past council, indicates that any of the excluded-use shops – pawn shops, tattoo parlors and cheque-cashing businesses – that were currently located downtown would remain as legally non-conforming. However, those businesses could not expand or move.
Sidon has approached council several times, but the situation has not changed at this time.