The City’s Planning Committee today approved zoning changes to limit the growth of payday loan establishments in Ottawa. The zoning changes would require minimum distances between payday loan establishments to help reduce the number of these businesses and their clustering in areas, such as Montreal Road and Bank Street.
Council directed staff in 2018 to do a zoning study of payday loan establishments in Ottawa, after the Ontario Government gave cities the power to regulate their density and location. The proposed zoning would set minimum distances of at least 1,000 meters between any new payday loan businesses. No payday loan business could be within 300 metres of a school or post-secondary institution. Nor could they be within 500 metres of a casino or racetrack.
Payday loan businesses have grown in number and visibility across the city, with 54 currently in operation. They are a concern because of predatory lending practices whereby lower-income residents can find themselves in deep financial trouble by taking out short-term, high-interest loans that often create a vicious cycle, sometimes ending in bankruptcy.
Existing payday loan businesses would be grandfathered, but if one ceased to operate, the new zoning rules would apply at that location, as long as the next tenant is not another payday loan business. Payday loan establishments would be prohibited in the rural area.
The City’s Community and Protective Services Committee will consider a related matter on Thursday, September 19, on proposed licensing and regulations for payday loan establishments.
Planning Committee received the 2018 Annual Development Report, which charts the development and economic progress of the city. The report shows Ottawa’s economy growing steadily, with 557,600 residents working and unemployment dropping to 4.6 per cent. Housing affordability is a continuing concern.
Ottawa saw a 1.5-per-cent increase in number of households over 2017. There were 6,950 new housing starts. The proportion of apartment starts decreased to 34.7 per cent, down from 40.8 per cent the previous year, but all other housing types increased.
The City continues to do well in achieving its intensification targets. The Official Plan target is 40 per cent but Ottawa achieved a 55.2 per cent share in 2018.
Items approved at today’s Planning Committee meeting will go to Council on Wednesday, September 25.