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Protesters seek limits on payday lenders

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Protesters from the anti-poverty advocacy group ACORN rally outside a new Cash Money payday loan store on Kingsway at Griffiths. The group says the City of Burnaby should limit the number of such outlets and their proximity to each other.

— image credit: MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER

Their chants expended, a small group of protestors from the anti-poverty advocacy group ACORN tucked their placards under their arms on Tuesday and strolled from in front of a Cash Money payday loan outlet at Kingsway and Griffiths to a Money Mart 200 metres east.

Which was just the reason for their ire.

Monica McGovern, the chairperson of ACORN’s Burnaby chapter, said there’s too many short-term lending establishments too close to each other in the city. That makes it too easy for low-income people who may not use conventional banks to access expensive loans.

Eventually they’re snowed under by their obligations to the lenders, further miring them in poverty, said McGovern.

“This is the poor they’re exploiting,” said McGovern. “They set people up for failure.”

The Cash Money outlet where ACORN members protested opened on Jan. 14.

But with another pay day lender close by already, McGovern said it’s time the City of Burnaby start limiting the licenses for such establishments.

“We’re concerned because these stores keep on popping up,” said McGovern.

Their proximity to each other allows clients from skirting provincial regulations that prevent a pay day lender from advancing money if the client already has an outstanding loan to that lender; the customer just has to walk down the street to get the money, along with the increased debt.

But fighting that regulatory battle, along with high interest rates such lenders charge – up to 23 per cent – is ongoing, said McGovern.

Meanwhile, municipalities like Burnaby can take steps to restrict the access impoverished people have to payday lenders.

“We urge city council to address this issue and limit the proliferation of these businesses,” said McGovern who pointed out nothing has happened at the civic level since ACORN made a presentation to council last February.

The issue was referred to the Community Development Committee for further study.

In April the City of Surrey proposed an amendment to its bylaws to create at least 400 metres separation between payday loan stores.

 

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Protesters seek limits on payday lenders

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