Recently, Abbotsford was nominated for an award by the Province of BC in honour of our efforts to welcome small business to our community. Reducing bureaucracy and red tape when in the process of starting a business is a goal we may never perfect, but the effort is paying off.

This column is short and sweet because I would like to offer a suggestion to the City of Abbotsford on just one simple way they can promote and protect small business.

What I’d like to talk about is putting a cap on home-based businesses.

Hear me out before you begin to yell at your computer how stupid an idea this is.

This is not an unheard of concept. Most cities limit the number of taxi vehicle licenses, for example. Why? It keeps the market from being saturated. This keeps the pricing at a level where driving a cab is a job option and not an option of poverty. My example is extreme, but let me give you another one.

We have many barber shops and hair salons in town. They all pay leases, or property taxes, business licenses, and more. We also have many legal, and illegal, home-based hair salon businesses. They don’t have anywhere near the same overheads as the real world business.

That’s just competition you say? Sure…up to a certain point I would agree with you. But if these two business compete with the same service and the same price point, but don’t pay the same overhead or taxes, what are the long term ramifications? The real world shops will close up.

Yes, they will. How many travel agencies do you see now? Not many. Online services and home based tour operators have ended the large agency. There are many such examples.

So, the government has a responsibility to promote competition by supporting a level playing field. It does so in many business sectors. What I suggest here is that we expand that scope of control to include applying a ratio of real world businesses to home-based businesses and then capping licenses when that ratio is reached.

Before you tell me that it will simply promote a black market, it already exists. Let’s worry about legitimate operators in this column and fix all the people willing to break the law in another.

What do we accomplish with a policy like this?

  • We protect existing business
  • We promote a competitive playing field that includes similar relative overhead costs
  • Trained professionals are now available to be hired by real world businesses at sustainable market pricing
  • We promote new business in Abbotsford by giving entrepreneurs the confidence that they will be entering a fair market

What do you think? Are you all capitalist all the time and think it should be a free for all? Or do you think the government has an obligation to help create a level playing field? Add your comments below or drop us an email at


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