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Bylaws Under Consideration

From time to time, Council reviews, considers and adopts new bylaws and bylaw amendments to keep the District's various bylaws current and enforceable. Under the Community Charter, any proposed bylaw must be given three readings by Council and then a final adoption reading before coming into force.

This page will be updated regularly to provide a location for residents and other interested persons to review the District's proposed bylaws prior to being adopted.

Comprehensive Fees & Charges Bylaw No. 1094, 2017

Status: This bylaw was presented to Council on November 7, 2017. The bylaw was read a first and second time on November 21, 2017.

The District of Houston is proposing the merger of various fees within several bylaws into a single, consolidated fees and charges bylaw. The proposal would result in a single source for all fees and charges, including fees for utilities, recreation and other services, and would streamline the fee review process. The proposed changes affect 17 bylaws. As part of this review, we want to hear your thoughts on the proposal. You can direct your questions to Gerald Pinchbeck, Corporate Services Officer, either by phone (250-845-2238), by email to, or by letter mail to PO Box 370, Houston BC, V0J 1Z0.

What’s Changing?

Business Licences

A new business licence classification system has been introduced, and will alter the existing system by consolidating 199 classifications into 61 classifications. It will also introduce a General Business Licence to cover any business not otherwise classified, and will apply to most businesses. The base business licence rate would increase from $92.00 to $100.00, and would be the first rate increase since 1998. Other changes include:

  • The building rental rates have also been reclassified. With the nature of residential rentals having changed with the introduction of secondary suites and other residential rental options, the old classification of “Apartments / Townhouses” did not necessarily capture these types of accommodations, and will be changed to "Residential Accommodations". Landowners who are offering residential accommodations will be required to purchase a licence except when the total number of units being rented is two or less.
  • In addition, the "Hotel / Motel" Classification has been rebranded to "Temporary / Tourism Accomodations" to reflect the changing business climate of temporary accommodations presented by companies such as Airbnb. The proposal would require any person renting an accommodation on a temporary basis (less than one year) or targeted to tourists to pay a licensing fee of $6.50 per unit to a maximum of $650.
  • The rates for retail and wholesale businesses have also been consolidated. Rather than having 21 classifications, the rates would be based on three classifications based on the total floor area of the business.
  • Mobile Vendors would also increase from $250 to $92. This mirrors other local government’s rates for mobile vendors. These rates are higher than for other businesses since mobile vendors do not pay property taxes, but benefit from services such as roads, sidewalks and parks.
  • Businesses will also no longer be required to purchase a separate business licence for each type of business they operate based on our classification scheme. While this has been implemented in practice, the bylaw structure was not revised. This will codify the change in the bylaw. However, businesses operating from several locations will still be required to license each location separately.
  • A new Special Event classification is also being introduced, and will allow special event organizers to purchase an umbrella business licence for all vendors participating in their event.

The full bylaw and fee schedule can be read here. To compare the proposed schedule to any changes, please see Schedule A (Pages 18 – 26) of Business Licence Bylaw No. 1085, 2016.

    1) A person wants to open a bakery in Houston, but also wants to operate a restaurant with no liquor licence from the same location. Rather than being required to pay a separate licence for the bakery and restaurant, the business owner would only be required to pay the restaurant rate for a non-liquor licence establishment.
    2) An accountant, doctor, or other professional wants to open an office in Houston. The Business Licence Inspector would classify this business as a “General Business” since they do not operate under any other type of classification.
    3) A major retailer is opening a store in Houston, and will be selling a variety of items and offering services in store under the same business name. The business would be required to purchase the Retail Business Licence, which is based on the total floor area of the business, as opposed to purchasing a separate licence for each type of business operated.
    4) Mr. and Mrs. Jones have recently renovated their basement to create a secondary suite in their home, looking to maximize the investment potential of their home and build savings for retirement. Mr. and Mrs. Jones do not own another home or rental unit, and are therefore exempt from the requirement to purchase a licence.
    5) Housing for Humans Ltd. is a major corporation which operates an apartment complex in Houston, with nearly 50 units in total available for rent, and has one unit set aside for their complex manager. They would be required to purchase a business licence at a rate of $6.50 per unit up to a maximum of $650 for the business. Since Housing for Humans Ltd. rents 50 units, they would be required to pay a licence fee of $325, and the Manager’s Suite would be exempt.
    6) Mobile Homes 4U operates a large mobile home park in Houston, renting out 150 mobile home spaces to people. Like Housing for Humans, they are required to obtain a business licence. Since they offer more than 100 units for rent, they would pay the maximum licensing fee of $650.
    7) John Doe, a new entrepreneur, wants to operate a professional consulting service from his home to reduce his costs while he builds up his client base. He designates one area of his home as the office for the business. Because he is operating from his home, he would be required to purchase a licence for a home based business ($15).
    8) Kathy is in the same situation as John, but rather than looking to expand her business, she sells knick-knacks and other gifts as a hobby. Like John, she is required to purchase a licence for a home based business.

Other Fees & Charges

Some other changes are being made to the fees structure, including:
    1) Outgoing electronic documents / scanning fee reduced to $0.10 per page from $5.00 per document, and does not apply to any document available on the District’s website.
    2) Maximum fees for printed copies of the Official Community Plan, Development, and Subdivision bylaws increased to reflect the size of the bylaws.
    3) A colour document fee of $1.65 has been introduced.
    4) The District will scan documents over 11x17 at a cost of $10.00 per page.
    5) USB Devices may be provided at cost to customers, and disclosure rules for regular requests have been provided.
    6) Fees for Official Community Plan and Zoning Amendments are increasing from $250 to $400 to reflect the increased cost of advertising. A new rate for joint OCP/Zoning Amendment applications of $600 will apply, reflecting the reduced cost for advertising since the newspaper ad can be consolidated.
    7) Fees for Variances (either through Council or the Board of Variance) will increase from $100.00 to $200.00, reflecting the cost of sending registered mail and administration costs.
    8) Building Permit Applications Fees will begin differentiating at $25,000 of estimated value rather than $10,000 estimated value. Permits for projects under that value will be accompanied by a fee of $30, and any project over that value will require a $50 fee.
    9) The Administration Fee, used to register any overdue permit onto title, will be required for all projects over $50,000.
    10) Strata Subdivision fees are being added, and reflect the rate for a fee simple subdivision.
    11) Barricades could be rented for events at a rate of $5.00 per barricade plus a damage deposit to recover transportation costs.

What’s NOT Changing:

Most fees are not changing in 2018, including fees for the following:
  • Outgoing Documents, except as noted above;
  • Animal Control & Licensing;
  • Cemetery Fees;
  • Fireworks & Open Burning Permit and Mitigation fees;
  • Development and Land Use permits, except as noted above;
  • Water, Sewer and Garbage Collection Rates;
  • Airport Use fees; and
  • Leisure Services Fees and Charges.
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