Gregory Bryce, owner of the Four Seasons Bed and Breakfast in Riverdale, poses for a photo in the property’s front yard on May 5. Bryce is asking the City of Whitehorse to suspend its requirement for paid business licences for enterprises, like his, that are without income due to COVID-19. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Bed and breakfast owner requests city suspend business licence requirements during COVID-19

Four Seasons Bed and Breakfast has lost all bookings

The owner of a local bed and breakfast is asking the City of Whitehorse to suspend its requirement for paid business licences for enterprises, like his, that are without income due to COVID-19.

The request came from Gregory Bryce, owner of the Four Seasons Bed and Breakfast in Riverdale. He provided a written submission that was read at Whitehorse city council’s May 4 meeting. Delegates cannot currently make presentations in person due to physical distancing measures, but submissions are being read aloud at meetings.

In his request Bryce asked that the city issue a licence without penalty when businesses that are shut due to the pandemic reopen.

As he explained, in his own case, his business licence is up for annual renewal on May 17 at a cost of $160.

“As a result of the coronavirus, all my expected guests scheduled from March to early June cancelled their reservations in March,” he told city council. “This is normally a very slow season for me, but these did amount to six parties — from Canada, the U.S. and Germany — and 25 room-nights. It is quite possible that I will not be able to accept any nightly guests for the rest of the year.”

He expects to lose all the income that would normally come into his bed and breakfast for the year, amounting to anywhere between $19,000 and $26,000.

Where possible, he said, he is cutting costs through measures like freezing his credit card processing account. He had already paid for of this year’s expenses like advertising.

Bryce suggested the city could require impacted business owners to sign a promise to notify the city when the business reopens or that could be done on the basis of trust.

If the city requires some sort of payment from such businesses, he suggested the renewal fee be reduced to a minimal $10 or $20.

Bryce went on to make a number of more long-term suggestions for the city around business licence fees, noting that on those suggestions “no immediate decisions are required.”

He argued business licence fees should be based on revenue and that it be equitable so that all short-term accommodations (including Airbnb and the like) are paying a business licence fee.

He also went on to question how much work the bylaw department puts into regulating short-term accommodations after the significant effort it takes businesses (in this case the previous owner of the bed and breakfast) to meet regulations, there’s little contact with the city.

“From 2003 to 2019, I have paid the City $2,400 in license fees. (The rate increased from $120 to $144 in 2009 and to $160 in 2014.),” Bryce wrote. “Yet, I have not once, in my memory, had contact with bylaw in relation to this business. Once the initial (licence) has been issued, it is difficult to see what benefit these annual fees provide to the business or the public.”

After Bryce’s presentation was read at the meeting, councillors Steve Roddick and Jan Stick highlighted a number of federal and territorial COVID-relief programs, suggesting bed and breakfast owners like Bryce should look into those routes as a possibility.

“There’s lots of options,” Stick said.

Council did not indicate during the meeting whether it would consider suspending the business licence requirement for those that are shut due to COVID.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mayor Dan Curtis said administration would have to look at the issue. This is the first such request the city has received on business licences.

He noted though it can be a difficult issue as city fees such as business licence fees account for half of the city’s operating budget.

While the city is not charging additional fees and interest on utility (water, sewer, garbage) bills during the COVID emergency, the charges for the service are still in place. Similarly, the Yukon government passed an order so that penalties and interest won’t be charged on property tax bills until after Sept. 2 (normally, that would start after July 2 when taxes are due).

In a May 5 interview, Bryce said he watched the May 4 council meeting and feels council members were receptive to his submission and he’s looking forward to a resolution.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Whitehorse city council

Just Posted

Lorraine Kuhn is seen with one of the many volleyball teams she coached. (Photo submitted by Sport Yukon)
The Yukon Sports Hall of Fame inducts the late Lorraine Kuhn

Lorraine Kuhn became the newest member of the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame for her work in growing volleyball amongst other sports

File Photo
A Yukon judge approved dangerous offender status for a man guilty of a string of assaults in 2020.
Yukon judge sentences dangerous offender to indefinite prison term

Herman Peter Thorn, 51, was given the sentence for 2020 assaults, history of violence

Crystal Schick/ Yukon News A former residential school in the Kaska Dena community of Lower Post will be demolished on June 21. Crystal Schick/ Yukon News
Lower Post residential school demolition postponed

On June 21, the old residential school in Lower Post will be demolished and new ground on a multi-cultural centre will be broken

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley announced 29 new COVID-19 cases on June 19 and community transmission among unvaccinated individuals. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs record-high 29 new COVID-19 cases

F.H. Collins prom attendees and some Porter Creek Grade 9 students are instructed to self-isolate as community transmission sweeps through unvaccinated populations

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before using it on Nov. 24. The Yukon government is reopening the drive-thru option on June 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Drive-up COVID-19 testing opening June 18 in Whitehorse

The drive-up testing will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. everyday and increase testing capacity by 33 spots

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 14 meeting

Murray Arsenault sits in the drivers seat of his 1975 Bricklin SV1 in Whitehorse on June 16. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bringing the 1975 Bricklin north

Murray Arsenault remembers his dad’s Bricklin, while now driving his own

A presumptive COVID case was found at Seabridge Gold’s 3 Aces project. (file photo)
Presumptive COVID-19 case reported at mine in southeast Yukon

A rapid antigen rest found a presumptive COVID case on an incoming individual arriving at the 3Aces project

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

Most Read