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Sidney waives business licence fee for 2022

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Downtown Sidney in October 2021. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

The Town of Sidney has enacted a new bylaw waiving the 2022 licence fee for local businesses.

The town, which is also researching the possibility of doing away with the annual fee once and for all, did the same thing last year to help businesses weather the pandemic storm.

For most businesses, the fee is $100.

The town issues just over 900 business licences each year, most of them renewals, while about 100 are for new businesses.

Under the perpetual business licence program the town is investigating, only new businesses would pay a one-time licence fee.

The revenue loss from getting rid of the annual fee is estimated at about $85,000. The only revenue, about $10,000, would come from new licences. The cost to administer business licensing already exceeds the revenue generated.

The goal of licensing is to ensure businesses operate in an area permitted under zoning regulations, and that the physical structure of each business is safe and meets fire and safety regulations.

The drawback to ending the annual licence renewal process is it’s one of the few chances the town has to update records for local businesses, it says.

In 2013, Langford did away with the annual business licence fee, with Mayor Stew Young at the time calling it a cash grab and an exercise in bureaucratic paper shuffling.

Langford instituted a permanent business licence that would remain in effect until there’s a substantial change to the business, such as relocation.

The cost of the perpetual licence in Langford was the same as for the annual licence.