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Penticton City Council considers credit card surcharge

They may be coming back from a holiday weekend, but Penticton city councillors had several contentious issues to deal with at their regular council meeting, which was moved to Tuesday this week due to the Easter holidays.

Visa transactions

City staff are recommending the councillors vote in a new bylaw allowing the city add a surcharge to Visa credit card transactions.

“The Visa rules permit service providers to surcharge on VISA cards where a local law or regulation requires that such service providers be permitted to surcharge,” said Michael Hughes, Paymentus customer service director, in a letter to the city.

Back in 2012, council decided to go to Paymentus, a third-party system, in order to offer customers the ability to pay for city services via credit card. At the time, it offered two main advantages: the city wouldn’t have to go through the $100,000 process of becoming payment card industry compliant or have to find a way to make up for the 1.65 per cent credit card processing fee.

Paymentus adds a surcharge of their own, which was passed on to the customer, a practice Visa outlawed in late 2013.  The proposed bylaw, recommended by Paymentus, will allow both the city and the company to sidestep the Visa regulation against surcharges.

Skaha Lake Boat launch

Staff is also recommending council support implementation of fees for boat trailer parking at Skaha Lake for the 2014 season.

Council approved the fee structure last July, but it was not immediately implemented. The plan is to apply fees to the parking lot next to the boat launch area at the northeast corner of the lake and along South Main bordering the park. The other lots in Skaha Lake park remain free for use.

There will be no charge for launching a boat, but if council supports implementing the fees, boaters can expect to pay $5 for half a day or $10 for the full day to park their vehicle and trailer. An annual pass costs $70 for residents, or $105 for non-residents. Purchasing an annual pass doesn’t guarantee a space at the boat trailer parking lot or along South Main. It still remains first come, first served.

Scott Avenue apartment

Council will also be holding a second public hearing for a proposed 16-unit apartment building at 273 Scott Avenue.

A similar application was turned down in August 2012 after strong opposition from the neighbours, who were concerned the reduced setbacks being requested would cause the building to overshadow other properties, as well as bring more traffic to an already busy street. The new proposal has a smaller foot print and one less apartment, though the height has been increased to four stories from three.

Doug and Gwen Tarbet, who own the property next door, say the developer is still requesting variances that will result in the apartment overshadowing their property, and  the requested concessions will be to the detriment of the neighbourhood.

“The lot is far too small to support a 16-unit apartment,” said Scott Avenue resident Margaret Munro in a letter to council. “The lot is presently zoned for duplex. It could certainly be suitable for a fourplex, not a 16-unit apartment building.”

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