April 19, 2017 10:00 pm
Updated: April 19, 2017 10:01 pm

Stricter rules could be coming for Edmonton pawnshops

File photo of an Edmonton pawnshop.

Vinesh Pratap, Global News
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The city will spend the next year looking into where pawnshops are set up and come up with zoning amendments in an attempt to avoid clusters of them.

All the while, the chief operating officer for Cash Canada argued to city council’s urban planning committee pawn shops are a legitimate business, and sees no reason why the city should take special steps to keep them from setting up close together in some business districts in Edmonton.

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“I don’t like the fact that there are people opposed and think we’re a derogatory business and that we’re predatory lenders, which we’re not,” Diana Machardo told reporters.

“We provide a service to people that can’t go to a conventional bank.”

She said her industry helps people who occasionally need help, and will put up something of value temporarily as credit. She claimed the average loan is $113.

“We’re there to help people who can’t afford to go into Walmart and get a brand new TV. They can come and get it from us for cheaper.”

The vast majority of loans are paid within the 30-day time limit she said.

Coun. Mike Nickel has asked for amendments to the bylaw that would suggest ways to have pawnshops a certain distance from each other, as well as other ways they can improve their appearance. That would include physical improvements like making sure windows are clear and aren’t covered.

“Does clustering of certain kinds of businesses have a negative impact, not just on the immediate area but on the community as a whole?”

Coun. Ben Henderson said the industry gives off the impression that stolen goods are fenced through transactions, and having several pawnshops in close proximity of each other is bad news for any business district. He’s hoping agencies like End Poverty Edmonton can work with city staff to show cause and effect on people who live in the margins of society.

READ MORE: Pawn shop opens on Whyte Avenue: ‘It was a little bit of a surprise’

Watch below: On Dec. 12, 2016, Vinesh Pratap filed this report about a new business on Whyte Avenue. As Vinesh Pratap reports, it’s a storefront not many expect to see on what many feel is an important main street.

It’s something Machado said is an unfair label.

“They can’t find any negative reports because there are none.

“The way we are regulated by the police, we tend to be a safe place where you’re going to come,” she said. “If you think people are going to go to pawnshops to get rid of stolen goods, they don’t do that anymore. Online has eliminated that virtually for pawnshops.”

The city will study what’s done in other cities to prevent pawnshop clusters and to see if the same rules can apply here. The report will be before city council in April of 2018.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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