Amendments strengthen business licensing bylaw

KENILWORTH – Wellington North wants a stronger business licensing bylaw.

On June 24, councillors reviewed a report from clerk Karren Wallace that noted the municipality last passed a new bylaw in 2016.

Wallace noted that councillor Sherry Burke was a champion behind the idea of updating the bylaw regarding door-to-door sales.

Wallace said “some small amendments … needed to be made to enhance and strengthen our bylaw,” including removal of “temporary vendors” from the list of definitions.

Another section would allow vendors at events deemed municipally significant.

Wallace explained that at an event such as the Mount Forest Fireworks Festival, all vendors bringing in food carts would need to be licenced and meet fire and public health regulations.

Wallace said the amendments are minor, but they will help with enforcement and allow legitimate local groups to operate as vendors without undue red tape.

Next up on council’s agenda was a report on the Consumers Protection Act.

Mayor Andy Lennox said that after Wellington North dealt with door-to-door vendors, “now it seems the province is getting on board.”

Wallace clarified that it appears the province, in its attempt to cut back on red tape for businesses, “seems to be opening the door once again for some unscrupulous operators.”

Her report stated “Currently, in order for a business to sell, lease or contract in a consumer’s home, the consumer must have initiated contact and invited the business to attend their home for that specific purpose.” However, the report notes, “industry members have indicated that these rules are overly restrictive. For example, a business may be asked by a consumer to attend their home to repair a restricted product, like a furnace, but the product may need to be replaced.

“Under existing rules, the representative is required to leave the consumer’s home and wait until the consumer contacts the business to invite the business to their home specifically for the purpose of entering into an agreement.”

Wallace said the province is considering eliminating that, but she “recommend(s) we not agree, to protect vulnerable citizens.”

She also noted the province is considering changing another portion of the act regarding cold calls. “The industry wants a business to be able to contact a consumer who may have made a historical purchase and has called for service, to set up a visit to discuss new or discounted products that could be of benefit to the consumer,” she explained.

Wallace said, “We are very supportive of reducing red tape, but not to provide more opportunities for strong-arm tactics.”

She added, “If salespeople are strangers at your door, don’t let them in.”