City examines home-based business

Mayor asks for clarification of home businesses after questions arise over city’s rules.

The City of Port Alberni’s home business rules might be getting a rewrite.

Mayor Mike Ruttan asked city planner Scott Smith to compare Port Alberni regulations for home business occupancy with those of other communities.

“We have a situation here in town where we do have some businesses that operate out of commercial areas and we also have the same businesses that operate out of homes,” said Ruttan.

“I personally need some more information about the situation that we have in respect to that. How are they treated, what’s it like in other communities and what’s the implication for the City of Port Alberni in terms of taxes and commercial tax business licences?”

According to Smith, there are guidelines in place.

“We do allow home occupations in our single family residential homes,” said Smith.

“The home occupation must be completely in the dwelling unit, there’s no warehousing or retail operations allowed out of it. You’re allowed one non-resident employee, the home occupation must be by a permanent resident of the dwelling unit, there’s a maximum of 430 sq. ft. within the dwelling that’s allowed to be used for the home occupation and you’re only allowed to receive one customer at a time on the property.”

Reading from a report by director of finance Cathy Rothwell, Smith said that while it’s BC Assessment that decides on the tax classes, it appears that home businesses are not charged commercial business taxes.

“They’re residential mainly because they’re still intended to be a very small portion of the house,” said Smith.

Home business occupations within Port Alberni still require a business licence from the city.

Smith will return with a report at a later meeting.

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