‘It dissuades economic development’: Barrie councillor pushes to ban payday loan shops from downtown core

You may soon have to go outside of the downtown for your next quick monetary fix.

Barrie Coun. Sergio Morales is introducing a motion at the city’s general committee meeting Sept. 13 that would pave the way for payday loan sites to be banned from operating along Dunlop Street.

This restriction specifically targets the historic core and would be included as part of the municipality’s upcoming zoning bylaw update.

“Other businesses have a tough time operating beside payday loan places,” Morales, also the chair of the Downtown Barrie BIA, told Simcoe.com. “The east-end of Dunlop usually hasn’t had this issue. But we need to start creating a critical mass of businesses and giving residents a reason to stay in the west-end for shopping.”

Morales says the city has invested millions of dollars into fixing Dunlop and the infrastructure underneath.

“Businesses have invested incredible amounts of money redoing their facades and patios and pivoting business models on COVID. This is one very small but hopefully impactful thing city hall can do to allow businesses to emerge into the west end.”

Now is the “perfect” time to explore such a measure because the last remaining site closed awhile ago — so new rules won’t affect an existing business, he said.

These types of restrictions aren’t new. Hamilton took similar steps recently. And while Barrie hasn’t introduced limitation specifically targeting payday services in the past, it does already restrict how and where certain types of businesses (like, say, strip clubs) can operate throughout the city, Morales said.

Payday establishments have been criticized by Canadian media and financial experts in the past for charging high interest rates and taking advantage of vulnerable residents with low credit scores who cannot secure loans through traditional banking institutions.

But Morales says he’ll “leave the morality to the provincial and federal legislators.”

“It dissuades economic development,” he said. “The intention behind my motion is solely to make it easier for west-end businesses to have complementary neighbours and give people reason to go to the west end.”

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and it can be viewed on the city’s . To download the agenda, visit