Council waives sidewalk cafe application fee again
By Nowell Berg
On February 22, City of Kimberley council held its regular bi-monthly meeting.
Councillors Kyle Dalum, Kent Goodwin, Nigel Kitto, Jason McBain, Darryl Oakley and Sandra Roberts were present along with Mayor Don McCormick.
Councillors attended the meeting in-person, however, the press and public were not allowed in Council Chambers.
The meeting streamed live on the city’s YouTube channel. Watch the archive here.
Chief financial officer Jim Hendricks brought forward the Revenue Anticipation Borrowing Bylaw which the city does each year. The bylaw “establishes a line of credit should we need it in anticipation of receiving tax revenue in early July,” said Hendricks.
The $5 million credit line was in place last year but was “not drawn upon and therefore no interest charges were incurred.”
Hendricks pointed out the bylaw covers any “cash flow” shortage during the first six months of each year. The city relies on property tax revenue to fund its operations, that revenue is not collected until July.
Council passed Hendricks’s request.
The city continues to move forward with developing a business license category for short-term rentals.
The issue revolves around noise complaints received about loud parties taking place at short-term rental properties. Council’s recent adoption of the Good Neighbour Bylaw provides some tools to deal with such complaints.
Corporate Officer Maryse Leroux said that with the Good Neighbour Bylaw, “We have some provisions to deal with noise and we now have the ability to charge for multiple attendance [at a noisy residence].” Costs escalate when the RCMP or City officials make several trips to a property.
For Mayor McCormick, the issue is about “the difference between neighbours and visitors, particularly on the short-term rental side of things where we’ve had a number of issues in some neighbourhoods.” He added, “I don’t think the fines that we have in place are severe enough to take into account the behaviour from a short-term rental point-of-view.”
Developing a short-term rental business licensing bylaw will provide the city with “more tools to deal with short-term rental problems,” said Leroux.
Sidewalk Cafe Fees
Daniel Holden, General Manager, Kimberley & District Chamber of Commerce, wrote a letter to council seeking a “permanent” removal of all city fees associated with setting up a sidewalk cafe.
Last year, council approved the abeyance of the sidewalk cafe application fee in consideration of COVID-19 and the need to provide more space for patrons. The total fees waived last year was “about $2,500,” said Coun. McBain.
Maryse Leroux pointed out to council the application process requires “city staff time” and the city is required to “recover” such costs. Additionally, Leroux said that allowing sidewalk cafes on city property gives those businesses “assistance” which other businesses do not get.
Coun. Goodwin said he had “no objection for another year of free stuff,” but that fees should be applied in the long-term.
Coun. McBain said he supports making the fee cuts permanent.
Coun. Kitto said he “supports waiving the fee for another year” but the city needs to recoup staff costs in the future.
Coun. Roberts cautioned that giving businesses “city property for free” could pose bigger problems. She concluded, “We need to be very careful about giving to a specific business and not to another. “
Coun. Dalum supported “another year of reprieve.”
For this year, Mayor McCormick said the city would be “mirroring the same as last year [in that the] application fee [is] waived, but keeps in place insurance and square metre requirements and all of the diligence still required for an application.”
Chief administrative officer Scott Sommerville indicated the “insurance requirement” is important because the city must be listed as additionally insured as protection from possible legal action as a result of any accidents occurring at a sidewalk cafe located on city property.
Council approved the removal of the sidewalk cafe application fee for one more year.
Kimberley city council meets twice monthly starting at 7 p.m. Due to pandemic restrictions, the public is not allowed to attend Council Chambers.
The next scheduled council meeting is March 8. It live streams on the City of Kimberley YouTube channel.
e-KNOW file photo