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Payday loans in Belleville: financial lifeline or economic exploitation?

By Brendan Burke [1] 

BELLEVILLE – A growing concentration of payday loan operations in Belleville is concerning some people.

With the unveiling of a new CashMoney outlet on North Front Street last month, the city’s busy thoroughfare is now home to four cash advance locations, all within a five block radius.

For residents like Anthony Callaghan, a local insurance broker, one more store is one-too-many. Callaghan penned a passionate plea in a letter to the editor featured in the Belleville Intelligencer, urging policy-makers to consider the business’ economic and social impact.

In the letter published in October, Callaghan points out that it is often lower-income cities and neighbourhoods where the saturation of payday loan offices occur. As a result, residents are locked in a cycle of debt spurred by high interest rates. Belleville, he wrote, is no exception.

Callaghan’s call to reconsider the role of payday loan operations in Belleville is timely. Calgary’s city council recently voted to prevent the businesses from operating within 400 metres of each other, and councillors in Hamilton are pushing for the same restrictions to combat “economic violence.”

Belleville’s Chamber of Commerce has assumed a neutral stance on the issue, with CEO Bill Saunders saying all businesses are welcome, as long as they’re legal.

QNet News will sit down with both Callaghan and Saunders later this week.

More to come.