Ottawa pursuing options to distance, cap number of payday lenders


City staff will explore options to curb the growth of “predatory” lending establishments in the downtown core following a motion passed Wednesday morning at city council.

Mayor Jim Watson says the motion is meant to protect Ottawa’s vulnerable citizens from payday loan businesses – outlets that offer quick cash in exchange for high interest rates on loans.

“These operations, which really do prey on the poor and the vulnerable, are popping up more and more in areas that are economically challenged,” he told council, citing Bank Street, Rideau Street and Montreal Road as hotspots for payday loan firms. According to the city, 55 such businesses currently operate in Ottawa.

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The city is empowered to limit the number of payday lenders in Ottawa under new provincial legislation which came into effect on Jan. 1. The law also places limits on the relative amounts lenders can offer to customers.

City councillors strongly supported the need for extra regulation of payday loan businesses, which a few dubbed “predatory” lending establishments.

A final report, outlining options for limiting the number of new establishments and spreading lenders, is expected in early 2019.

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