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Mobile business licences reduce red tape

Local businesses could save money and time thanks to a new type of business licence set to go in effect in the new year, and could increase municipal revenues, as well.

Pitt Meadows councillors voted unanimously to adopt the Intermunicipal Business Licence Tuesday night, following the lead of Maple Ridge a earlier this month.

The new mobile business licence fee will cost business owners $250 and allow trades-related businesses to work from Surrey to Hope without having to buy individual licences for each municipality. Owners will still have to purchase a business licence from the municipality in which their business is located, however.

Revenue earned from the licences will shared amongst the eight participating municipalities, including Surrey, Langley city and Langley township, Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Hope, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Kim Grout, Pitt Meadows’ director of operations, told councillors at Tuesday’s city council meeting the program would reduce red tape for businesses, saving them time and money.

“There will also be less need for bylaw enforcement,” she said.

A similar mobile business licence pilot was launched in 2008 in the Okanagan Valley, with 17 municipalities taking part. That program was a success, resulting in a 40 per cent increase in business licence revenues for the partner communities, and was eventually expanded to include two more municipalities.

“At first I was concerned there would be a loss of revenue for our community, but it appears now there will actually be an increase,” said Mayor Deb Walters at Tuesday’s meeting.

Mike Devereux is the owner of Pacific Star Electrical in Maple Ridge, and does business all across the Lower Mainland. He estimates the new business licence will save him thousands of dollars, as well as a lot of paper work.

“We have to buy a licence for every city we do business in, and they can run $150 to $200 each,” he said. “That really adds up, so [the mobile business licence] makes a lot of sense.”

Devereux said close to 50 percent of every dollar he gets from his customers goes to various levels of government in the form of taxes and fees.

“There’s incomes tax, payroll tax, HST, municipal licence fees, permits,” he said. “Anything that can be done to make it easier to do business is a good thing.”

Devereux added he’d like to see mobile business licence expanded to cover other municipalities in the Lower Mainland.

“We’re a Lower Mainland business,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to have 20 different business licences.”

The pilot project is set to begin this Jan. 1 for one year, after which it will be evaluated.|

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