North Bay City Council debated the increase of a sales permit fee during Monday evening’s regular meeting.
The permit fee is designed to apply to people who attempt to give their services by way of door to door sales.
While the new requirement of a permit is to justify their presence in the community, it is however, still clearly a case of buyer beware in that, by no means, does the permit signify a proposed service as approved or warranted by the city.
The permit will simply hope to identify who is using door to door sales forces to canvas the city for commercial support.
“In speaking with the clerk’s office, we’re having a problem with the update right now," says Councillor Darryl Vaillancourt.
The fee, originally at the hundred dollar mark, was proposed to be adjusted fivefold but many on council decided that it would be too high of a cost to do business and too discouraging to those who might justifiably draw a permit and instead, try to skirt it altogether.
"With the two hundred dollars, we’re hoping that they will come in, get the license, report and if there is a problem, we have a mechanism in place to be able to report it to police and be able to follow up," he says.
Vaillancourt’s lean towards a two hundred dollar figure as the most palatable option was challenged by Councillor Tanya Vrebosch, who felt the higher sum of five hundred dollars might be better tacked on to the costs of operating a business that deals in door to door sales in the city.
“If anyone knew of any local, legitimate door to door salespersons, that may change my mind,” says Vrebosch, adding, “I don’t know of any.”
The permit also may have some concerned as to whether their door to door canvassing would be required under its definition; however, it allows charitable groups to continue door to door without the requirement.
However, questions will still remain whether a lawn cutter, student painter or driveway sealer who only makes a few hundred dollars would be willing to pay for the permit in order to stay in business.
The other concern, of course, is whether or not enforcement can be issued to protect the vulnerable from over aggressive sales tactics, programs and organizations looking to complicate and confuse residents, especially the elderly, with signing up for long term, costly contracts.
Vaillancourt says that ultimately, the responsibility lies within the individual.
“Whenever anyone comes to your door, if you don’t know who they are, don’t show them your bill or personal information,” he says.
“You don’t do it over the phone, so don’t do it at the door.”