Whitehorse city councillors will vote on bylaw amendments

Whitehorse city council mulls tighter criminal record checks for some business owners

Taxi companies, pawn shops would face more scrutiny under new rules

Some business owners could be facing more stringent background checks, if proposed bylaws changes are approved by Whitehorse city council.

City staff recommended the changes to the business license and vehicle-for-hire bylaws at the standing committee meeting July 17.

There are multiple proposed changes, but the most significant ones revolve around tightening up criminal record provisions for owners of taxi businesses and pawn shops.

Under the proposed changes, the city could revoke business licenses if “a business owner is convicted of an indictable offense … and/or the Designated Officer believes that it is in the public interest to do so,” Tom Wyers of bylaw services told council.

The changes would also bring taxi businesses, pawn shops and secondhand store owners under the business license bylaw “to ensure there is no criminal record related to some potential public interest and safety concerns,” said Wyers.

The changes also clarify the definitions of these types of businesses under the bylaw.

The changes were proposed after “other levels of government raised a concern with the city regarding illegal activities in the vehicle-for-hire industry,” in 2016, he said.

“I find the standards high,” said Coun. Samson Hartland. “And rightfully so.”

Coun. Rob Fendrick wanted to know if a business owner who already had a license and had a conviction could possibly be granted a “grandfather” exemption. Wyers said he was unsure but would look into it.

Wyers said owners of affected businesses, as well as the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, have been notified of the proposed changes.

The amendments will go before council for first reading at the July 24 regular council meeting.

Contact Lori Garrison at lori.garrison@yukon-news.com