Langley City Council has approved new rules to restrict thrift stores and donation boxes in the downtown core.
The regulations will not affect the 18 existing thrift stores or the many donation bins already operating, but new thrift stores won’t be allowed within 400 metres of other second-hand shops and all new drop boxes will be banned.
The restrictions were approved Monday night and will take effect Jan. 1, 2017.
The issue of the growing concentration of thrift stores in the City was raised by the Downtown Langley Business Association (DLBA), whose executive director, Teri James, told the council hearing that the association is “in no way opposed to thrift stores,” but feels the community has become over-saturated.
Existing stores will not be affected by the proposed rules, James added.
Thrift store operator Aaron Schneider, of the Thrift for Kids outlet, questioned that, noting that he would become subject to the new rules if he tried to relocate or add space.
“I would no longer be allowed to expand,” Schneider said.
Daniel Collins, executive director of the Langley Association for Community Living, told council most of the donation drop boxes in the city are being operated by out-of-town organizations.
“Very few of them represent truly local charities,” Collins said.
Collins said his organization has removed its only City drop box in response to concerns the boxes are generating unsightly piles of unwanted goods and trash.
During the debate that preceded the vote on the new rules, Coun. Rudy Storteboom said he would support the restrictions because the DLBA has called for them, but he wanted to make it clear that he is a “thrifter at heart” who enjoys shopping for bargains in City thrift stores.
Storteboom added that he has doubts about the City’s ability to enforce the restrictions.
Coun. Paul Albrecht said he felt the City has reached a “saturation point” with thrifts and should have acted sooner.
Coun. Val van den Broek agreed, saying the City should be proactive rather than reactive.
“Yeah, we’ve got 18 of them,” van den Broek said, “but we approved them.”
Coun. Jack Arnold voted against the area restrictions on new thrift stores, saying it amounted to singling out secondhand shops for not being “classy.”
Coun. Gayle Martin said that was not the issue, but went on to say that the appearance of some of the secondhand shops was a concern.