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Landlord protests business licence fee increase

New rate is just too high, says Arvind Patel

A businessman with local rental properties says the District of Houston has unfairly increased his costs.

Arvind Patel took the opportunity to state his case at the Feb. 6, 2024 District of Houston council meeting in the portion of the meeting set aside for public comment.

Patel, who is from Surrey and who also has a house in Smithers, said the increase in business licence fees from last year to this year have placed yet another burden on his operations.

“The rental market has suffered a lot in this last couple of years,” he told council.

“Firstly, we were not allowed to raise rents in 2020 and 2021,” Patel recalled of a pandemic-specific measure put in place by the provincial government.

“However, we did see cost increases and then the insurance industry is another issue just because of forest fires and stuff. They jacked up our insurance rates two or three times already, like 200 per cent to 300 per cent.”

So when the District of Houston increased its licence fees by what Patel said was 200 to 300 per cent, it was “a nail also in the coffin, basically.”

“It’s not easy for us to survive in the rental industry and every time we see increases of 200 or 300 per cent, it doesn’t make sense.”

Patel said he made inquiries to the District as to the reasoning behind the increase and was told the District did a comparative analysis with other local governments.

Yet when he said he then looked at the rate of other increases, none were as high as he is now paying.

Patel added that his situation is even more complicated now that Coastal GasLink has finished burying its natural gas pipeline south of Houston.

“Fifty per cent or my properties are vacant at the moment. I can’t afford these hikes in expenses. What we used to pay roughly in total was about $800 and now our bill is $3,000. Is that fair?”

He wondered how the District could rectify the increases or if it would be rectified.

Patel distributed copies of information he gathered to council members.

Mayor Shane Brienen said he would be in touch.

About the Author: Rod Link

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