No changes to Cornwall home-based business law

In this April 2019, file photo, Cornwall Coun. Syd Gardiner takes part in a city council meeting. Gardiner is troubled about home-based businesses and questions whether they are getting a 'freebie' from taxes that established storefronts are paying. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – Cornwall won’t be making any changes to its rules around home-based businesses.

Monday’s council discussion surrounded a report, asked for by Coun. Eric Bergeron, whether the city could do more to encourage home-based business as more people are working from home during the coronavirus outbreak.

Cornwall currently has home occupation laws on the books which have a number of controls including signs, parking, keeping of stock and a stipulation that it doesn’t “change the character” of the home.

Bergeron says the information should be handed off to the economic recovery task force. “The point of these motions was to be creative and flexible and have information ready to help anybody during the recovery period. It’s just getting started. I don’t know why we would have asked the BIAs (Downtown BIA and Le Village BIA) for their opinion…of course they don’t support home-based businesses.”

Coun. Syd Gardiner seemed troubled by the topic and claimed that Cornwall doesn’t have a permitting structure like other communities. “There has to be some kind of control with home-based businesses.” Planning General Manager Mark Boileau clarified that depending on the type of businesses there are permits required.

Gardiner also questioned whether people who have a business in their home are getting a “freebie” from commercial taxes established storefronts are paying. “You can not allow people just to open businesses without knowing what the heck they’re doing.”

“When I hear people working for Amazon that aren’t paying taxes, that really bothers me. Yeah, they pay on the property but they don’t pay on the sales like a normal store does. That’s a problem,” Gardiner claimed.

The report cautions that as more people are working from home during the coronavirus outbreak, there could be a future shift to more home-based business, putting commercial occupancy in the city and the associated tax dollars they create, in jeopardy.

Council accepted the report but did not take any action Monday night, leaving the regulations as is.