The number of payday loan businesses in Guelph will be capped moving forward, if council’s committee of the whole has its way.
In a Tuesday afternoon meeting, the committee approved new rules that would prevent such businesses from clustering and keep them distanced from schools and parks.
“Some of our most vulnerable citizens have no other choice,” Coun. James Gordon said of obtaining high-interest, short-term loans. “We owe it to people to come up with alternatives.”
Gordon’s comment focuses on a few lines of the staff report which recommends council direct staff to work with community partners to help find alternative ways for people to access low-cost financial products and services.
However, such direction isn’t necessary, Gordon said he was told, as staff will take on those efforts anyway. In turn, the committee gave no direction to staff on that front.
The city currently has eight provincially licenced payday loan establishments – three in Ward 4, two in Ward 2, none in Ward 6 and one each in wards 1,3 and 5.
Should council formalize the committee’s decision later this month, those businesses would all be allowed to continue operating as-is until they are either sold or change locations. That’s when new rules will come into effect.
A bylaw is expected to be in place for Jan. 1 that restricts new payday loan businesses from setting up shop within one kilometre of another or within 150 metres of a school or public park.
Licencing comes with a cost of $641 for the first year, with $400 annual renewals.
The provincial government granted municipalities the ability to limit the location and quantity of payday loan businesses in 2018.