Many business owners feel the City of Edmonton makes the permit process unnecessarily cumbersome and challenging. We need to foster a culture of “getting to yes” instead of the current culture of “adding roadblocks.”
I believe our most valuable tool in our toolkit is our frontline staff. Most of them have years of immense expertise when it comes to the permit process. They have overseen staggering numbers of blueprints, plans and designs, so much so, they can go back to this experience to provide expedited knowledge. This means, when they are given a new permit applicant, they can rely on past experience to know what’s required for this particular applicant.
This knowledge can then be applied for faster guidelines and timelines, which I will write about shortly.
In the business world, most general inquiries should be responded to within 1-2 business days or 2-5 business days for more complex concerns. This response should include a clear answer and not a response that kicks the can down the road. There are many employees already practicing this culture, but I believe we need complete buy-in from everyone at City Hall (yes, including councillors). When we provide clear and dependable responses within these timeframes, we will foster a more business-friendly city.
We also need to see the practice of “transferring” a permit file back and forth end leading to more delays. That is why as part of improved Customer Service, when a permit application is opened, that case officer will see the permit through all the way to approval with the goal of getting that business to “YES” as quickly as possible.
Let’s always treat permit applicants as valued clients who are investing in our city.