Seventy per cent of small business owners in eight cities in Western Canada think that their municipal government does not understand the cost pressures they face, according to a new report by Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
Red Deer was not one of the eight municipalities examined in the Municipal Business Report which looked at Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Surrey, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg.
But Scott Robinson, Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce CEO, said local small businesses also had a very difficult time staying afloat during the pandemic and cost pressures continue.
“When it comes to policies related to taxation, utilities, those kinds of things, they are very hyper sensitive to increases because of the fact they’re dealing with those plus the supply chain, plus labour costs. Everything is going up it seems all at once,” Robinson said.
However, as a smaller city Red Deer is more nimble to address issues facing small business, he said.
“The reality is smaller cities are better positioned to be supportive of small business because of the fact that things move quicker and relationships are stronger. It’s not so impersonal.”
He said the chamber works to establish a collaborative relationship with the city when it comes to red tape, regulations, licensing and brings feed back and best practices to the table. Recently the organization successfully advocated to reduce the 2023 municipal tax increase.
It’s just a matter of finding the right balance for businesses and the municipality, Robinson said.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business urges municipal policymakers to keep costs down and reduce the regulatory burden for local businesses and recommends:
• Halt cost increases for small businesses (property taxes, utility fees, permit costs, etc.).
• Offer permanent and inter-municipal business licenses.
• Implement a permanent public feedback mechanism for businesses and citizens to report their regulatory frustrations and red tape irritants.
• Make target timelines (and their actual processing times) for licensing and permitting processing publicly available.
• Create or improve dedicated pages for small business information with updated contact information.
• Increase the accessibility of budget consultation processes to include small business owners.
• Adopt a construction mitigation policy for public projects.