If you think there are spools and spools of red tape imposed on Edmonton City Hall, you’re not alone. A report released Thursday and heading to Edmonton City Council’s executive committee Monday details four pages’ worth of things the city wished it didn’t have to do to satisfy the province. They cover 20 categories.
“There actually wasn’t any one specific item; it was just the sheer volume of submissions,” said Councillor Andrew Knack after going over the list. “So many different things.”
He thinks they’ll add up to something significant.
“A lot of them are smaller- to medium-sized items that I think, cumulatively, would have a pretty substantial impact on streamlining processes, speeding things up, allowing us to do things more effectively.”
The report outlines four themes that are duplicate, unnecessary, open for interpretation, or are redundant between the city and the province and can hurt business competitiveness.
In the affordable housing category, there are three suggestions aimed to let city run more of the program and not have it scattered through several ministries.
Ten proposals deal with land use, including a call to allow electronic notices for subdivision and development appeals.
The Red Tape Reduction Act came into being on June 28. Shortly after that, Mayor Don Iveson wrote the province and Grant Hunter, the associate minister of Red Tape Reduction, with Edmonton’s game plan and recent history.
Iveson said “$127 million was found between 2014 and 2018,” equivalent to two per cent of the annual tax levy. That money was reallocated to higher-priority initiatives or used to reduce taxes.
The city hall report pledges to reduce unnecessary regulations by 20 per cent by April, as a first step towards a council motion set by Councillor Sarah Hamilton for a one-third reduction.
However, Councillor Mike Nickel has his doubts.
“If you rely on bureaucracies to cut red tape, that’s never going to happen. That’s got to come from politicians.”
The city review calls on creation of a reporting system for both city staff and the public to offer ideas to reduce problems.
Nickel, however, expects the bureaucracy to resist change.
“I’ve had employee after employee come forward with an idea, only to be punished somehow, or in some form, because somebody’s going to be looking bad.”