Mayor Naheed Nenshi calls latest figure a ‘milestone’ in cutting Calgary red tape
A program to cut Calgary red tape launched by the city a year and a half ago is starting to produce results, says Mayor Naheed Nenshi, to the tune of over $1 million saved for the city and its citizens.
The savings — found from money and reduction in hours spent on application processes — is the result of hundreds of recommendations from citizens, businesses and city employees on the most efficient ways to deal with the city’s applications process.
“This is an important milestone made possible by the great ideas of many Calgarians and the hard work of my colleagues at the city,” Nenshi said. “We must continue to cut red tape, or stop it before it even develops, to ensure the city is an efficient facilitator of good things for citizens and businesses.”
The savings of $1.12 million is in part based on reports of savings from revised and more efficient city processes. City officials estimate over 33,000 hours of citizen and employee time has been saved as a result.
But more can always be done, says Richard Truscott, Alberta director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction and we’re pleased they’re measuring what they are trying to accomplish,” he said. “In terms of saving tax dollars, it might not be as much as we would like or hope. But certainly these are really great first steps and we’ll be looking for even more progress over the next couple of years.”
The cut Calgary red tape initiative was first launched in 2011 and has undergone three phases to date. The program will continue, but an end date was not made available.
Truscott says cutting red tape is not a quick endeavour and will take more time to see even better results.
“It requires consistent pressure over time, you can’t just make some efforts, wipe your hands and be done with it,” he said. “It requires commitment and it requires ongoing measurement.”
Truscott added the CFIB will be looking at Tuesday’s numbers from the city more closely to determine if the measurements are accurate.
“It’s going to take more time to see a perceivable impact among our business owners,” he said. “It all looks positive, but there’s more to do.”
The CFIB will be looking for a renewed commitment from the city to continue the red tape cutting program for the forseeable future.
Some highlights of the city’s improved processes include allowing trades and businesses to see the estimated fees before completing online applications, streamlined business licences for businesses operating in multiple locations, new 311 access to view trade permits online and increased ability for citizens to register for recreation classes across the city to complete registrations at the facility counter. And increases in the number of online service requests.
Truscott said the government of Alberta still has a long way to go in cutting red tape themselves. The CFIB is still waiting for a small business strategy from the province, which could come this spring.
“We’re hoping for something substantive and meaningful, something that will produce real results,” he said.
“We’ve seen a lot of good talk but not a lot of action. They need to get moving on some of this stuff.”