Opinion Column

Vancouver wrapping itself up in red tape 0

Daniel Fontaine

By Daniel Fontaine, Dialogue with a Difference

Vancouver city hall. (24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)

Vancouver city hall. (24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)

Few things remain that you can still buy for a toonie. They include a few sticks of gum, a pack of tissue and a few minutes of parking on some downtown streets. Now what if I told you that for only $2 you could also renew your business licence in Vancouver.

As part of my day job heading up a non-profit association, I regularly sign cheques to cover our operating expenses. Much to my surprise, one of those was made out to the City of Vancouver for the grand sum of $2.

The payment was in response to an invoice mailed to us by the city to renew our annual business licence. As you can imagine, there are likely hundreds of other similar invoices being delivered by Canada Post.

At this point you may be asking yourselves, why does the city bother sending out payment requests for such a tiny amount? And how much is it actually costing the city to mail, receive and then process these renewal payments?

Those were the questions I posed to Vancouver’s corporate communications department on Monday. Unfortunately, they failed to return my call to provide any kind of response.

While there was radio silence in some quarters at city hall, not everyone remained mum. When asked about how ludicrous it was to mail $2 invoices to Vancouver’s non-profit operators, one city councillor said this amounts to nothing more than useless red tape.

“Now that you have brought this to my attention and how silly this is, I will certainly be talking to staff about it,” said Non-Partisan Association Coun. George Affleck. He also stated the city shouldn’t be invoicing small businesses for any charge under $10.

“Sending invoices that are worth less than the cost to process them doesn’t make dollars and sense,” said Laura Jones, executive vice-president for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. “I hope that someone at city hall realizes this is costly red tape.”

While we may never know exactly how much it costs the city and the various non-profits to process these renewals, it stands to reason it is more than the face value of the invoice. But that doesn’t mean the fee will be going away anytime soon.

Daniel Fontaine is a local political commentator. Follow him on Twitter @Fontaine_D.






Do you think it makes good business sense for the City of Vancouver to charge $2 for a business renewal licence fee?

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