Get a licence, Iqaluit tells non-profits

New bylaw would require many organizations to pay $150 annual fee



Non-profit groups in Iqaluit can expect to pay more money to the city in 2006, if a proposed bylaw passes in its current form.

That’s because the city sees them as businesses, said Kim Rizzi, the economic development officer. And that means they need a business licence.

Charitable organizations like churches are exempt, as narrowly defined by the Income Tax Act. All other organizations will need to pay $200 to register, and $150 annually to renew. Groups operating without a licence could face a $250 fine.

Bernice Neufeld of the Qikiqtaaluk Corp., expressed concerns about this at a public hearing on Dec. 8. She said the definition of a charitable organization should be broadened.

“A lot of non-profits operate for the benefit of the community as a whole,” she said. “If they’re not making a profit, they shouldn’t be paying a fee.”

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A business licence ensures organizations have all the proper paperwork, such as WCB permits, to legally operate. It also ensures that new business owners don’t already owe the city large sums of money.

“If you owe the city a whole lot of money, you won’t get a business licence. You need to pay up,” said Rizzi.

These rules aren’t new — but they often aren’t being enforced by city staff, Rizzi said. The new bylaw would require city staff to ask organizations to register, and hand out fines if they don’t.

For instance, the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum is currently not registered as a business, although it should be, according to the existing bylaw. Rizzi said many organizations probably don’t realize they’re breaking the city’s rules.

The time limit for business owners to pay their arrears has not been spelled out yet, but Rizzi said the economic development committee recommended six months. Neufeld suggested three months is long enough.

The proposed bylaw, drafted for the city by its lawyers in Yellowknife, is not without a few glitches.

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For instance, it’s missing the old bylaw’s section that requires a criminal code check on anyone who sells firearms.

“All of a sudden it’s not on the radar at all?” asked Neufeld, who’s involved with the Apex neighbourhood watch.

Coun. Nancy Gillis asked for the rules to be changed governing the hours of amusement arcades. She wants them changed, so that if an arcade does re-open in town, it won’t be open to school-aged children when they should be in class.

The draft bylaw is also unclear whether it excludes carvers and craftspeople who visit businesses to sell their wares. The bylaw only excludes those registered with the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association. Gillis said she wanted the NAMA reference removed. “Get it out,” she said.

Recommendations from the public hearing will go back to the lawyers and the committee. A revised version will then be presented to council in the New Year for second reading, with a second public consultation before its final reading.

The public hearing attracted a small crowd, with only Neufeld, Rizzi, Coun. Nancy Gillis and one reporter in attendance.

“Am I the only person who asks questions in this city?” Neufeld asked.

“Yes,” said Rizzi.

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