The City of Nanaimo is close to replacing its 20-year-old home business regulations.
Councillors, following a public hearing Feb. 13, unanimously passed third reading of a zoning amendment bylaw and now await B.C. government approval before final adoption.
The amendments introduce an updated classification system based on lot size which regulates the type of business permitted, size of the business, number of employees and daily clients, parking requirements, hours of operation and signage.
A staff report notes that there are approximately 2,300 home-based business operating in the city currently, representing 3,400 jobs in a wide range of sectors.
“The regulations are intended to respect and balance the interest of the businesses and the surrounding neighbourhoods in which the businesses are located,” the report notes. “Ideally, home-based businesses should operate in a manner that does not adversely affect the quality and liveability of the neighbourhood.”
Previously, home businesses were allowed a maximum of five vehicle return trips per day, but the amendment will up the maximum to 8-10 return trips per day on larger lots.
On lots smaller than 370 square metres, home businesses will no longer be allowed a non-resident employee, and personal services including hair, skin, nails, brows, personal wellness, tattooing, etc., will no longer be permitted.
Another change will see limited auto repair permitted on lots larger than 2,020 square metres. Lots that size will also see limited retail permitted, so long as the products sold are manufactured at the home-based business.
Only one Nanaimo resident spoke at the public hearing. Janna Gillick expressed opposition, talking about anticipated problems around shared driveways. She said the allowable numbers of vehicle trips were “excessive” and had concerns about traffic, liability, maintenance and wear and tear.
“This is why the review was initially asked for by council, was because of some of these conflict issues,” said Bill Corsan, deputy director of community development. “That’s why going through this process is trying to identify ways of mitigating conflict because the bylaw was about 20 years old and hadn’t been reviewed.”
City planner Caleb Horn said if home-based businesses can’t meet regulations, the city can initiate “further conversation” or “impose conditions.”
“We also do, of course, operate on a complaint basis if we have issued a home-based business [licence] and we do have concerns of this nature involving heat, glare, noise, radiation, anything like that that is crossing a lot line,” he said.