A two-year business experiment is on its way to becoming a permanent fixture.
Burnaby city council has given the green light to establish a permanent inter-municipal business licence (IMBL) program between several Metro Vancouver municipalities.
The participating cities in the agreement include Vancouver, New Westminster, Richmond, Surrey and Delta.
The IMBL first became a pilot program in the summer of 2013 with the goal to provide support to businesses and improve economic development, by reducing costs and administration for construction-related businesses operating within the communities.
The pilot project agreement was set to run out at the end of this year.
According to a staff report, since the initial inception, the IMBL program has received positive feedback from the business community and continues to show steady growth.
In the first six months of 2015, there has been an eight per cent increase in the number of licenses sold within the six community, while in Burnaby the number of IMBL’s rose dramatically to 400 compared to 310 for all of 2014.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan is pleased by the uptake in the program, suggesting IMBL gives businesses more affordability while the cities are able to identify the businesses appropriately working within their community.
“It used to be tough when businesses wouldn’t get a license,” he told the NOW.
Corrigan also congratulated the Burnaby Board of Trade, which brought the initiative forward to the city to start.
Under the pilot program, the IMBL fee is $250, and a change is not being proposed as it becomes permanent.
The revenue generated from the current pilot program is distributed among the participating municipalities using a revenue sharing formula based on sales figures of non-resident contractor business license by each participating municipality at the start of the pilot program.
A further breakdown showed Burnaby received 14.37 per cent of the revenue. Vancouver netted the biggest share at 24.30 per cent.
The report noted a new method of revenue sharing proposes that the municipality that sells the IMBL retains 90 per cent of the revenues and redistributes the remaining 10 per cent evenly amongst the other participants.
“The improved proposed revenue sharing formula offers more flexibility and lends itself to support future growth of the program while maintaining the goal of revenue neutrality,” the report stated.
The licence bylaw still needs to go out for public input and final approval from council in November.