Home Regular Contributors John Liston Removing Barriers Boosts Business Confidence in Edmonton

Removing Barriers Boosts Business Confidence in Edmonton

John Liston

Last month we spoke about the economic role of government encouraging commerce and clearing barriers for citizens and businesses. With that in mind we would like to share our inquiries into the City of Edmonton, and their efforts under the new city manager, Andre Corbould.

Alberta Enterprise Group met with the Brigadier General turned City Manager soon after he began in January. We relayed members’ concerns about permits, re-zoning, time delays and the regulation of building our city. No one complained about the rules, they just wanted a clear set of expectations up front and then a partner in navigating the process. The faster businesses get through permitting, the sooner they can build the city. That is what we all want isn’t it?

Recently, Mr. Corbould introduced us to the people taking charge of a city initiative to improve. As Stephanie McCabe, Deputy City Manager, said “We have been working on this mindset shift for over four years. We don’t use the terms ‘red tape’ or ‘regulator.’ We believe what we are doing is being efficient and providing customer service. We don’t see it as providing permits; we are working with our partners to build our city. We are 100 per cent committed to this.” She continued, “These efforts between 2018 and 2021 will save customers and businesses 261,000 days and $4.6 million annually as a result of these improved processes.” By eliminating some requirements and expediting others, permit approval times have reduced dramatically – some as much as 90%.

David Knight Legg, founding CEO & Board Senior Advisor at Invest Alberta, has been tasked with selling Alberta to the world and there have been some incredible results of recent. Asked about working with the City of Edmonton, he commented, “In Edmonton you’ve got a phenomenal city management team led by Andre Corbould.  They’ve thought a lot about things. We’ve brought in prospective developers to meet with them to really sit down and talk through what it takes. To think about what the best kind of policy environment would be and permitting environments that you can build more effectively, better, faster; to more creatively solve issues that are kind of dated. The city is a huge asset for our regional attraction.”

Brad Hoffman, Executive Vice President of Panattoni Development Company shared the same sentiment. “We are a large developer in eight countries and have millions of square feet currently in development. We really enjoy working with our partners at the City of Edmonton. I say partners because we really feel in lock step with Stephanie and the whole team. They listen, they set clear expectations, and expect the same from us. I feel very confident in the city. There is a high level of trust and accountability both directions, and it has allowed us to be much more efficient and effective. With this mindset we are building more, faster, and in the end that builds Edmonton, creates tax revenue; it only makes sense that we build where partners make is easy and efficient to do business!”

There is good work happening at the city of Edmonton. Leaders are creating a city-building culture, and businesses are starting to see results. The commitment to reducing barriers is progress both for businesses and for Edmontonians who want to see their city change and grow. There is still work to do, and ongoing progress will be good for everyone involved.

Alberta Enterprise Group (AEG) puts Alberta businesses first by sharing information, advocacy and building bridges to new markets. AEG members are business owners, senior executives, investors and entrepreneurs representing firms in every major Alberta Industry. AEG members employ over 100,000 Albertans and generate billions in economic activity each year.