City wins 2022 Municipal Excellence Award for Red Tape Reduction
October 5, 2022

The City of Edmonton’s Permit and Licensing Improvement (PLI) Initiative is the winner of the Red Tape Reduction category in the Government of Alberta’s 2022 Municipal Excellence Awards. Service improvements and timeline reductions in the PLI Initiative will save applicants $5.3 million and 67,600 days collectively each year

The PLI initiative is a substantial body of work to help reduce barriers and encourage investment in Edmonton. The work supports key goals of The City Plan and Edmonton’s Economic Action Plan. Homeowners, business owners, and contractors report that regulatory processes are lengthy and difficult to navigate, costing them time and resources. PLI is implementing improvements to provide customers with a more transparent, consistent and reliable experience. They will be able to more quickly and easily understand and navigate the zoning, permitting and licensing process to obtain what they need to renovate or build a home or expand or start a new business.

"Building an Edmonton for all of us includes making it easy to do business here. I am proud of the work that the City of Edmonton has done in regards to red tape reductions for business owners, and am very pleased to see the Permit and Licensing Improvement Initiative being recognized for its positive impacts,” said Mayor Amarjeet Sohi. “We will continue to explore ways to remove barriers for the business community as we work towards our shared goal of economic recovery and growth here in Edmonton.”

“We want the more than 30, 000 small businesses in Edmonton to thrive. We know that reducing barriers encourages financial investment and job growth in our city,'' said Stephanie McCabe, Deputy City Manager with the City’s Urban Planning and Economy department. “Our teams worked hard to help build trust and relationships by listening and innovating to make it easier to do business.”

The City of Edmonton worked with homeowners, developers, businesses and city-building partners on multiple improvements. Edmonton is home to over 33,500 businesses, 95 per cent are small businesses.

“The online permitting process has been a godsend. We really appreciate having this technology for online permitting,” said Kelso Brennan, General Manager of Hi-Signs. “The City came to the table with truthful benchmarks and the goal to make a major time reduction by 50 per cent and they exceeded that. I was really pleased with the City’s involvement and encouraging approach they took to listen to us and hear us out.”

“Our production team is extremely happy. The sooner we build it, the sooner we finish it and the sooner the customer gets their product,” said Nicholas Northup, President, Premier Built Garages. “At the end of the day it (online permitting process) saved our production team and construction team time and they can build garages faster and turn them over to homeowners faster. We’re very happy with the new online system. You have cut the red tape.”

Permit and Licensing Improvement Initiative

The service improvements and timeline reductions implemented through the PLI initiative in 2022 and 2023 are estimated to save applicants $5.3 million and 67,600 days collectively each year. The savings are in addition to the 261,000 days and $4.6 million customers already saved in delay costs annually based on demonstrated reductions in permit timelines from the red tape reduction efforts implemented between 2018 and 2021.

Some of the improvements achieved to date include:
  • Processing over 90 per cent of permit and license applications online
  • Reducing business license approval timeline by 50 per cent where a building permit is not required
  • Granting partial commercial building permits for tenant improvements
  • Reducing sign permit timelines by 50 per cent
  • Expanding the expedited infill house permits program
  • Automating residential permit reviews
  • Implementing Safety Code Inspector optimization technology
  • Enhancing eServices based on customer feedback
  • Reducing zoning regulations
  • Renewing the Business Licence Bylaw
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