Edmonton to consider scrapping fees for home-based businesses

Should Edmonton get rid of licensing fees for home-based businesses?. File/Getty Images

Edmonton has the highest licensing and permitting fees for home-based businesses — not only in the region, but across the country too.

A report heading to next week’s Urban Planning Committee will consider a couple of options to drop the fees, either partially this year, or completely in 2020.

Licence fees and other permits add up to $413 in Edmonton. The next-lowest municipality is St. Albert, where fees are $372. However, many other cities are less than half of what Edmonton charges.

Strathcona County and Toronto, for example, do not require home-based businesses to pay licence fees, the report said.

“We’re higher than peer jurisdictions in the region and around the country, so that’s a problem, obviously,” Mayor Don Iveson said.

Iveson asked for the report after campaigning on it during the election.

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“I think we’re going to have to address that. That’s one of the reasons why I asked for this review.”

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“I want to make sure that we’re creating conditions — particularly for small business and home-based start-ups — not only to be compliant with the need but to be able to practically afford the cost for their small business.”

The mayor said the city wants to support entrepreneurs and fees that are too high don’t do that.

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“It’s concerning that if I hadn’t asked the question, we wouldn’t necessarily had looked at our comparables.

“I think it’s important to review all of our fees against our peers and competitors, not just in the region, but across the country.”

He doesn’t like that it would take until 2020 to reduce the fees. One option the report considers is eliminating $125 in development permits later this year, as an interim step.

“That’s maybe just extra paperwork that we don’t need to be going through,” Iveson said.

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“We need to be thinking about whether our regulations are actually achieving something important for the public interest or whether they’re just the way we’ve always done things.

“I think for minor home-based businesses, if you get the licence, and it truly is minor, I don’t think we have to make things so complicated.”

The report stresses the need for businesses to still register with the city, even if it’s at no cost.

Iveson said it’s important for the city’s economic development arm to work with them to enhance Edmonton’s business climate.

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