Nanaimo city council has voted to give the city’s liquor-primary establishments a break on business licence fees for 2021. (Stock photo)

Nanaimo city council has voted to give the city’s liquor-primary establishments a break on business licence fees for 2021. (Stock photo)

Nanaimo’s pubs and bars hit by COVID-19 will get a break on business licence fees

Annual business licence fee for liquor-primary establishments drops from $1,100 to $165 for 2021

Nanaimo’s pubs, bars and nightclubs are getting a break on business licence fees this year.

On Monday, Nanaimo city council voted unanimously in favour of a motion put forward by Coun. Sheryl Armstrong to reduce the cost of a business licence for liquor-primary establishments from $1,100 to $165 – the annual business licence fee for most other businesses – for 2021.

The higher fee paid by pubs, night clubs and other establishments that rely on liquor sales as their primary trade covers additional costs for police and city bylaws services associated with those businesses.

“The rationale behind that is to offset the cost of the Bar Watch program and policing officers and overtime, which isn’t happening right now,” Armstrong said. “Basically they’re running the same as a restaurant, so I believe they should be paying the same fees as a restaurant and that’s only for the year 2021 until we can reassess COVID.”

Coun. Ian Thorpe questioned lowering the licence fees, fearing the possibility that establishments currently enrolled in Bar Watch might opt out permanently when COVID restrictions are lifted.

“Hopefully, by the end of this calendar year, things might return to some semblance of normal where we might, in fact want the Bar Watch program operating again, because in my opinion, it’s something very valuable and I’d hate to lose it,” Thorpe said. “So, by basically saying to liquor establishments you can bail out of this now, I fear that we might have trouble getting them back into it later.”

Armstrong, a former RCMP sergeant in Nanaimo, explained that the Bar Watch program is staffed by RCMP officers, who are called in to patrol liquor establishments and are paid overtime wage rates to do so. The program, not currently operating, ran mostly in the downtown core.

Armstrong said family restaurants and bars are providing the same service during the pandemic, though the latter has continued to pay the higher business licence fees.

“They’ve had to lay off 50 per cent of their staff, they’re at less than 50 per cent of their capacity, then the government came in without any notice, shut down their New Year’s operations, which cost them a lot of money,” Armstrong said. “They don’t even know what’s going to happen with Super Bowl Sunday yet, so I just thought … that this was a way to help offset some of the costs for them.”

READ ALSO: Super Bowl ‘a rare profitable day’ for B.C. pubs, owners say

Other Nanaimo businesses that pay higher annual business licence fees include banks, at $1,100, and casinos and escort agencies and massage parlours, which pay $3,000 a year for business licences. Child care businesses, at $50, are at the other end of Nanaimo’s annual business licence fee schedule.

The loss of revenue to the city from temporarily lowering the licence fee was estimated at the meeting at about $27,000.
Like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter

local business

Just Posted

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of three Sooke men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Nanaimo-raised singer Allison Crowe with director Zack Snyder on the set of ‘Man of Steel’ in 2011. Crowe performs a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in the upcoming director’s cut of ‘Justice League.’ (Photo courtesy Clay Enos)
B.C. musician records song for upcoming ‘Justice League’ film

Allison Crowe’s close connection to director led to rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah

A 50-year-old man was stabbed in an altercation that started with a disagreement about physical distancing. (File photo)
Argument about physical distancing leads to stabbing in Nanaimo

Suspect arrested on Gabriola Island an hour after incident Wednesday, Feb. 24

A battery electric-hybrid ferry, pictured here, is expected to make its way to Vancouver Island in late 2021, says B.C. Ferries. (Submitted photo)
Hybrid ferry for Gabriola-Nanaimo route launches in shipyard in Europe

Two hybrid vessels to replace MV Quinsam by early 2022, says B.C. Ferries

G.P. Vanier in Courtenay has six members of the community who have tested positive; Island Health identified seven staff and 78 students who will be required to self-isolate. Black Press file photo
Eight sick, 108 more isolating in Comox Valley school district due to COVID-19

District says that all who tested positive did not contract COVID-19 within the school sites

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

The BC SPCA is offering many chances for school-aged kids to learn about animal welfare and other animal topics. Pictured here is Keith, a three-month-old kitten seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
From pets to wildlife, BC SPCA offers animal education programs geared to youth

BC SPCA offering virtual spring break camps, workshops and school presentations

Most Read