Cost of accessing White Rock business projects is disproportionately higher than larger cities

Cost of accessing White Rock business projects is disproportionately higher than larger cities

Reduce the red tape for business

If Surrey charges $230 for their non-resident licence for access to do business with 500,000 people, White Rock should be charging $9.20.

An open letter to White Rock mayor and council.

For what it’s worth, I have a complaint and suggestion.

My father-in-law is a contractor who works out of Port Coquitlam and he successfully bid on a small renovation job in White Rock – under $2,000. During work, he was met by the local bylaw officer who presented him with a $75 fine for not having a business licence with the city. Fair enough, he should have been fined.

The trouble is, while he does work all across Greater Vancouver, his principal place of business is Port Coquitlam, where another business license is issued.

I cannot excuse him for not having a non-resident business licence for White Rock. He has one for the City of Surrey and for other larger municipalities, which costs around $230 annually, about the same as White Rock.

Here’s the problem. With only 20,000 residents in White Rock – versus nearly 500,000 in Surrey, 600,000 in Vancouver, 250,000 in Burnaby and so on – many companies simply don’t get licences or refuse to do business in White Rock because of this sort of red tape.

If Surrey charges $230 for their non-resident licence for access to do business with 500,000 people, White Rock should be charging $9.20, on a per capita basis.

That type of suggestion is untenable, as the cost to administer a license is likely greater than that fee. However, with so many companies and contractors acting within Metro Vancouver, perhaps the region as a whole should look at streamlining the licensing process.

Each municipality has different fee structures, different classifications and different policies. All of the time and money associated with getting licences is downloaded to the consumers. Each one of us pays more to maintain this bureaucracy and warrantless red tape every time we employ a business to render goods or services.

How much money does the city receive as revenue from the issuance of these permits, less administration?

I imagine a centralized business licensing office would reduce the administrative costs, and in turn free up staff to process other inquires quicker and more efficiently.

Further, if red tape is reduced and firms could enter any municipality in the region by paying a single fee, consumers would see more competition and lower costs.

It would be great if White Rock could spearhead the streamlining of business licensing across the region. It would be a feather in the cap of the mayor and council.

Graham Wood, White Rock