City Council has given final approval to a bylaw that will eventually cap the number of payday loan outlets in Hamilton at 15, or one per city ward.
Council is taking action against what Ward 4’s Sam Merulla terms a “predatory industry” that preys on the most vulnerable, those who have nowhere else to turn in a financial emergency.
By licensing them through the “radial separation” bylaw, the city aims to prevent the blanketing of low-income areas.
The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction’s Tom Cooper says that is already happening downtown, and in various other parts of the city.
General Manager of Planning Jason Thorne says there are currently about 30 pay day loan outlets city-wide.
He adds that none will be forced to close as a result of council’s decision, but there can be more in Hamilton until the overall number drops below 15.
An admittedly “cynical” Ward 6 Councillor Tom Jackson says it’s now up to the banks and credit unions to step up and “fill the void” for those in need of emergency financial assistance.
Mayor Fred Eisenberger agrees, stressing that “the market doesn’t have to be predatory, it could be actually, helpful.”