Complaints about so-called municipal ‘red tape’ make the rounds every election cycle, with last year’s civic election no exception.
Political newcomer Mike Parent took notice.
During Tuesday’s city council meeting, the Ward 5 councillor introduced a successful motion for the city to look at its regulations in hopes of finding efficiencies for the business community.
The intent, Parent explained to his colleagues, is for the city to signal it’s “open for business.”
The concept of extra bureaucracy, or “red tape,” was a prevalent complaint throughout last year’s election season, Parent said, adding that while he doesn’t believe it’s unique to Sudbury, it certainly came up a lot.
“This was a very common theme, where very few if any businesses didn’t have something to say about a negative experience surrounding business,” he said, adding these complaints were a combination of legacy and recent.
Parent’s motion calls on the city to partner with the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce to prepare a report analyzing policies and regulations that could resolve challenges expressed by the local business community, and to “improve service delivery and access to services.”
The Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce was pulled into the process because they’ve been looking at city bureaucracy for some time, said Parent, who served on the organization’s municipal advocacy committee.
Although supportive of the motion, Ward 10 Coun. Fern Cormier cautioned against making too much out of it.
Red tape is a term that’s thrown around a lot, he said — mostly during election seasons.
Complaints about so-called red tape often come without important context, he said, citing a scenario in which a developer complains about the city holding up a project due to “red tape.”
In reality, they’re being held up because they want to build something in a floodplain, and the “red tape” is in fact “a regulation for safety.”
“It’s not all as bad as sometimes we think it is,” Cormier said.
Premier Doug Ford has raised the spectre of municipal red tape a great deal in recent months, Cormier added.
“I spit a little bit of coffee each time he says that, because they’re his regulations,” Cormier said, adding that municipalities are “creatures of the province.”
Regardless of his skepticism, Cormier said Parent’s motion calls for a worthwhile exercise, as there’s always room for improvement.
“What this will help us do is develop a laser focus of those things we have control over as a municipality.”
The city and Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce are expected to produce a report for city council consideration by the end of June.
The full operative clause of Parent’s motion reads:
That the City of Greater Sudbury directs the Chief Administrative Officer to collaborate and engage with the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce to prepare a report to be presented to Council by the end of Q2 2023 outlining:
- A description of the challenges being experienced by their members and the business community as a whole;
- An analysis of potential changes to regulations and policies that could resolve or minimize the impact of those challenges;
- The role of current municipal initiatives already underway to improve service delivery and access to services;
- Processes or initiatives that could be considered to further improve service delivery and access to services, and
- Resource implications, if any, associated with implementing potential changes together with an estimate of the timing associated with the work.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.