Concerned regional district business owners gathered at a public hearing on Thursday, October 24, to hear about proposed changes to home-based business regulations.
The public hearing for Area C residents around Cranbrook, Wycliffe, Fort Steele and Moyie arose after the Regional District of East Kootenay board of directors gave two readings to the new regulations.
There were about a dozen people at the public hearing, but every person who spoke was opposed to the changes.
Almost all of the rural residents present ran home-based businesses, from mechanical operations to saw mills to bed and breakfasts.
They were concerned with several aspects of the regulations. In the changes, properties less than two hectares must have less than 150 square metres (10 x 15) utilized by the business, which many felt was too small.
Some were concerned that the limit of one commercial vehicle greater than class 4 was too restrictive.
Others felt that the space allowed for a retail display in the business – 10 square metres – was too small. One resident gave the example of a woodworker selling furniture in that size space.
A common message was that many people live in rural areas because they don’t want the same level of regulation as in a city.
“I’m not against all of it — I do believe in some control — but most of us live in the regional district because we don’t want city rules,” said Clayton Augustine.
Many people said that the regulations would be “throttling business” and closing the region off to business owners who might otherwise consider moving to the East Kootenay.
“There is no room for growth,” said Linda Spence. “If we shut the door in their face, how are they going to come here?”
The board should take longer to consult with affected homeowners, she went on.
“It was too fast, or you would have a room full of small business people.”
Another resident echoed Spence’s statements.
“I am opposed primarily due to the way it has been handled,” said Dean Jacobson. “The board needs to consider whether it wants to take the same road as the city in closing its doors to business.”
The RDEK board of directors will vote again on the home-based business regulations at its Friday, November 1 meeting.