Should council be allowed to ban certain businesses from the downtown core?
The public will have its say at an upcoming public hearing.
Council has given first and second reading to a zoning change that would ban businesses – including arcades, tattoo parlours, flea markets, vehicle rentals, tobacconists, marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia, and cheque cashing companies – from opening downtown. Existing businesses will be allowed to remain.
Mission Mayor Randy Hawes said he’d like to see some businesses zoned out of the district completely, including marijuana sales and cheque cashing companies, which he feels takes advantage of people facing difficult times.
“To inflict a 450 per cent interest rate on the poorest of people, in my view, is completely unconscionable. So I would prefer to say we don’t need these people in our community at all,” said Hawes.
Not all councillors agreed on what should and should not be allowed in the downtown core.
Coun. Rhett Nicholson said arcades and tattoo shops may be on the list due to “old stereotypes,” and modern-day versions of the businesses are popular.
He asked if council would ban a Chuck E. Cheese franchise from opening downtown because it contains an arcade.
Coun. Jenny Stevens expressed concerns regarding why certain businesses were being targeted.
“I do always feel a little bit cautious about any governmental body acting as the moral police.”
Stevens also questioned whether council had the right to limit the number of specific stores.
“It is supposed to be left to the demand of the market and if three tattoo shops downtown are one too many, or two too many, the market will decide that for itself.”
But Hawes said the zoning change doesn’t limit the number of companies; rather, it stops certain types of new businesses from opening at all.
He explained that council is investing $3.5 million in improvements downtown to help create a new look and, sometimes, a deteriorating downtown can attract certain types of businesses.
“If you want to rebuild it, you have to try and find a way to have fewer of those and more of the proper retail shops,” said Hawes.
He also noted that the bylaw determines land use and that it is the council’s prerogative to make these changes.
The public hearing is not yet scheduled, but will likely take place on Nov. 7.