City increasing maximum business license fine

Maximum unlikely to ever be used, according to City

The City of Terrace is proposing to increase the maximum fine for violating business licence regulations to $10,000, up from $2,000.

The increase is one of several amendments to the City’s business licence bylaw proposed at a council meeting May 25. It’s merely an administrative change to an upper limit that will likely never be reached, according to David Block, director of development services.

Bylaw officers can issue tickets up to $500 as outlined in the City’s Ticket Information Utilization bylaw, which lists possible bylaw infractions and corresponding fines. For example, riding horses downtown carries a $100 fine.

If a perpetrator continually ignores fines, they can be taken to court, which is when penalties over $500 would apply.

“[That] would be probably step five or six down the line, there would be tickets issued first,” Block said, providing a hypothetical example of when the maximum fine might apply. “If a business licence was revoked and a business continued to operate, that’s when we might hit them with a $10,000 fine.”

The City tries to avoid letting situations deteriorate to the point they must go to court, Block said.

“Even the day before, we’ve pulled court dates because we’ve met with individuals and they’ve made some progress, finally, on the issue,” he said.

Block said he wasn’t certain what the highest fine actually issued by the City was.

“We may, in times, have issued a business or an individual, whatever the case may be, fines up in the $500 to $800 range, through two or three tickets issued concurrently,” he said. “That’s probably about the maximum.”

The City’s business licence bylaw is the only bylaw that does not yet have a maximum penalty of $10,000, Block said, so city staff are proposing to change it for consistency.

“This bylaw hasn’t been amended on that item since it was written back in probably the ‘90s, and it had that maximum $2,000 limit for whatever reason at the time, so we just brought the bylaw into line with everything else,” he said.

$10,000 was for a long time the maximum fine municipalities were authorized for by the Community Charter — provincial legislation that governs municipalities. The Community Charter was recently amended to allow for $50,000 fines, but Block said City staff didn’t think that necessary for Terrace.

“We didn’t go all the way to the $50,000 that we’re allowed to and the main reason is that we’ve never issued a fine to the maximum $10,000, ever, I think, on the City’s record books,” he said.

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