The village of Burns Lake held a committee of the whole meeting on Mar. 31 where several community members spoke up over the matter of home-based businesses.
Last year, between Nov. 23 and Jan. 11, the village conducted a survey to determine whether an amendment to the existing zoning bylaws for home-based businesses is needed. 68 people participated in the survey, of which 90 per cent respondents said that they would support amending the current zoning bylaw to include personal services under home-based businesses.
However, several other community members, especially business owners in the village’s downtown are opposed to any amendments to the bylaw. To give these members a platform to voice their opinions, the village held a meeting last week over Zoom, that saw 17 participants.
While there were a couple of voices among the participants who supported the zoning amendment, the rest were against the amendment or had questions for the council over it.
Several concerns were raised from how encouraging more people to conduct home-based businesses could isolate the downtown core to what kind of taxation and parking would these businesses have.
Katherine McPhail gave a verbal presentation that included her thorough research over the topic of home-based businesses from insurance implications to understanding BC Building code as well as asking difficult questions of the village such as “Is Burns Lake not able to offer businesses a location in any one of the current commercial zones?”
Several others such as Jen Varga, Lori White, Michael Riis-Christianson, Linda Uchacz and Wyatt Holliday, expressed their concerns through letters submitted to the council in advance.
“As a previous home-based business, I have some mixed emotions on this topic. In general, I believe that a home-based business should be used as a stepping stone, a way to test the market and save money until the business is viable,” read the letter written by Bryanne White, owner of Wild Roots Flowers & Gifts.
Kelly Holiday, who is a former councillor and owner of the boutique Aksenz expressed her displeasure over this amendment and said she was shocked that it even made it to the table for consideration. She listed several points in her letter over business signages on residential properties, lack of a by-law officer, current economic climate and urged the village to continue focusing on developing the downtown.
Based on the survey, the committee of the whole meeting and the input from various stakeholders, the village will now take several possibilities and outcomes under consideration if the zoning bylaw is amended. One of the major implications, something that was also brought up by several participants of the meeting is that if the amendment takes place, businesses located in the commercial zone at the moment, could chose to move their business to their home residence resulting in the village losing tax revenue.
Another possibility however would be for the home-based business to grow resulting in it moving to the commercial district and increasing the village’s tax revenue.
The village staff is now expected to compile all the information from the supporters of the bylaw as well from those against it, and report back to Council for further discussion.