Two years into the pandemic Oak Bay is moving a revamp of its home-based business bylaws up on the priorities list.
Coun. Tara Ney broached the subject last month, getting her motion on the topic to the table during the final meeting of June.
The current bylaw doesn’t offer clear guidance on regulations around home-based businesses, Ney explained.
“We saw that during the pandemic increasing numbers of residents have transferred their businesses to their homes, yet without adequate regulatory framework they’re actually working in the shadow of the law,” she said.
That can discourage a citizen from registering a business, and undermine their ability to do that, Ney said, adding “we need to get in line with the other municipalities.”
As Mayor Kevin Murdoch noted, updating the home-based business rules was under the “time permitting” category in the district priorities.
Council unanimously agreed to have staff craft a report outlining options to shift the “change rules for home-based business” up in the priority list. Staff is asked to take into account restrictions and barriers faced by small businesses and workers from the fallout of the pandemic that have led to increasing numbers of Oak Bay residents moving their work or businesses into their homes.
While all agreed to look at reprioritizing the item, Ney later suggested having staff look at halting enforcement in the meantime.
Coun. Esther Paterson noted that several homes on her street have residents working from them with no problems, but one has resulted in an uptick in vehicles, trucks with fuel tanks and trailers. It’s a business creating some consternation in the neighbourhood.
“There are also the home businesses that are not so benign,” she said.
Braithwaite and Zhelka agreed while Murdoch voiced intrigue at learning more about the legalities of that approach.
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