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Busines bylaw under review in Agassiz

The bylaw that affects business licensing and regulation is currently being reviewed in the District of Kent, and the mayor is hoping to hear from as many people as possible before the bylaw comes to pass.

Mayor John Van Laerhoven stressed the importance of public feedback on bylaw 1485. The last time it was adopted was 1994, and Kent staff have updated some of the items within it.

There will be a public hearing on Monday, Dec. 17, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. That will coincide slightly with the CP Holiday Train's arrival in town, said the mayor, but it is important to get this bylaw sorted out before January, when staff and council will be finishing up the home occupation bylaw.

"We do have other bylaws that need attention and we shouldn't be delaying it any further," CAO Wallace Mah told council, and that date is the last one that can happen in 2012, providing the two week's notice required for public hearings. On Monday night, the bylaw received its first two readings. A third reading and adoption cannot happen until the public hearings are complete. Council also voted to hold a second public hearing in January for those who couldn't make the Dec. 17 meeting.

So who should be concerned about bylaw 1485?

Everyone, said the mayor.

It affects everything from when businesses can operate, to how many garage sales you can hold in a year (four), without being considered a business.

It affects anyone who sells eggs, flowers and other items from their home, and it affects farmers of all types.

Currently, farmers are exempt from paying a business license fee, which Mah said has always been the case. In the report to council, staff has recommended that "at a minimum, agri-tourism, farm retail sales and kennel operations continue to be charged business licenses."

It includes proposed fees for farm retail in which 100 per cent of agricultural products are produces on the farm. That fee is $25, while the proposed fee for most other businesses is $125 — an increase from the current $100 fee set in 1994.

There is also a proposed $5 increase to the current $20 administration fee, bringing that total to $25.

The proposed bylaw is available for the public at the District office.

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