Edmonton city council considers new rules to avoid clusters of pawn shops

Edmonton city council is considering rules for proposed pawn shops following recent opposition to a new outlet in the Inglewood neighbourhood.

New requirements could limit store clusters and require notification to local business association

City council is considering rules for proposed pawn shops that would limit store clusters such as those found on Stony Plain Road. (CBC)

Edmonton city council is considering rules for new pawn shops after a local business association opposed a new outlet setting up in the Inglewood neighbourhood.

A report prepared by city administration for Wednesday's meeting of the urban planning committee outlines several approaches for dealing with the stores where people can trade items like musical instruments, jewelry and tools for quick cash. 

The report recommends the city introduce notification requirements so a local business association could appeal or begin working with the applicant to discuss the proposal.

The report also recommends creating regulations to limit clusters of pawn shops such as those seen along Stony Plain Road west of 149th Street. 

"How many more do you need in an area?" asked Coun. Bev Esslinger, who supports the new rules. 

Esslinger said she has heard concerns from both residents and business owners. She notes a pawn shop near 123rd Street and 118th Avenue recently received approval despite opposition from the local business association.

"This is a business improvement area," said Esslinger. "They're working really hard to improve and attract different types of businesses."

Ian O'Donnell, executive director of the Downtown Business Association, also supports distance separation rules for pawn shops.

"We just want to make sure that any one area doesn't have a conglomeration or a proliferation of any one type of use, including a pawn shop  or alcohol sales ... where you want to have diversity and you want to have a healthy street with a variety of businesses and patronage," O'Donnell said.

Authority for approving a new pawn shop currently lies with the development officer reviewing the application.

A third approach outlined in the report introduces rules around design.

Applicants would have to undergo an analysis which would look at how elements such as window coverings, lighting and signage would affect the vibrancy and safety of the street.

The report notes Edmonton police have expressed support for this strategy.