Hearing on new bylaw leads to further amendments

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — A recent public hearing ended with an amendment to the city’s proposed zoning bylaw changes for home businesses.

During the hearing on December 12th, council heard feedback from the public about the city’s new proposed amendments to a bylaw on at-home businesses.

The bylaw amendments look to bring current zoning bylaws surrounding what is defined as a home business and what is a home office into line with a recently adopted business bylaw. 

According to the city, the amendments to the business bylaw “provide business owners a more streamlined application and renewal process, and administration with a clearer and more robust enforcement procedure.”

For the bylaw on at-home businesses, the city said the amendments are mainly definition based and seek to clarify the existing bylaw. 

Residents at the hearing seemed most concerned with the limits of customers allowed per day and the details surrounding what constituted a business vehicle in the bylaw.

The city clarified that business vehicles mentioned in the amendments referred to vehicles such as cargo vans, buses, or large trucks. The amendments did not apply to regular vehicles that have business decals or signage.

The amendments to the zoning bylaw would change the number of customers a home business can see per day from 20 to 10. Many residents and small business owners believed this would negatively impact their ability to maintain current business practices or stunt their growth.

After listening to residents, council amended the zoning bylaw to keep the customer limit per day at 20.

Mayor Lilia Hansen said that the changes to the bylaw were meant to help separate residential and commercial spaces. 

“The intention is to retain the character of a residential neighbourhood,” Hansen said. 

The new bylaw will take effect on January 1st, 2023, alongside the new business license bylaw. 

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