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Hamilton politicians finalize payday loan crackdown

Hamilton City Council has finalized plans to cap the number of pay day loan outlets in the city.
Hamilton City Council has finalized plans to cap the number of pay day loan outlets in the city. Canadian Press

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.

READ MORE: Hamilton looks to cap number of payday loan outlets

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.

READ MORE: Need cash in a hurry? Here are the best and worst ways to get it

General Manager of Planning Jason Thorne says there are currently about 30 pay day loan outlets city-wide.

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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.

READ MORE: More Canadians using payday loans, most don’t understand costs: report

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.”

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