On Sept 12th 2019, the City’s Planning Committee 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.
Items approved at the Planning Committee meeting will go to Council on Wednesday, September 25.