Ridge looks to ban new payday loan companies

Plan calls for zoning changes.

Maple Ridge is a step closer to banning any more payday loan and cheque-cashing companies in the city.

A staff plan calls for changing business and zoning bylaws to prevent any more such companies from opening in Maple Ridge.

Currently, six local stores offer services such as cashing pay cheques or loaning small amounts of money at high interest rates.

Under the steps considered Monday, those stores would stay open, but would be refused a business licence if they closed for more than six months, then tried to re-open.

Coun. Tyler Shymkiw has led the initiative after making it a part of his platform in November’s election.

“I’m very happy for this to be moving along, and moving along so quickly,” he said last week. “This, I believe, will be a very positive step for the community.”

He pointed out that legal advice confirms that the city can ban such stores. The city’s lawyer says that they can be banned completely rather than just restrict them to one particular zone.

That was confirmed in the court decision that said Langley could ban pawn shops and porn shops throughout that city. Langley Township also bans them.

Maple Ridge has previously limited porn shops to one zone.

A staff report says that cheque-cashing stores draw crowds on days when income assistance cheques are issued while also draining the downtown economy.

Shymkiw described payday loan stores as a “contributor to the cycle of poverty that ultimately ends up putting our citizens on the streets.”

The bylaw changes will next go to a regular council meeting for further debate and passage.

Shymkiw wants the provincial government to take another look at the issue, saying there are other ways to help people in short-term emergencies so they don’t have to go to payday loan companies.

“Where there are gaps, our government should look at how our social safety net deals with them,” Shymkiw said.

He also wants to meet Liberal MLAs Doug Bing and Marc Dalton.

Abbotsford has banned payday loan shops from downtown, while Surrey requires that at least 400 metres separate one loan shop from another.

Ridge Meadows RCMP support the ban.