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Red Tape

the issue

How do we make Calgary the best place to do business? 

Proponents of cutting red tape believe that regulation and bureaucracy stand in the way of getting things done. Proponents of increased regulation believe that red tape protects the public by slowing down runaway capitalism and unsustainable economic growth. 

Calgary has come some way in reducing red tape, but remains one of the hardest places in Canada to start a business. Compared to Edmonton, it takes longer and costs more money to open a business like a restaurant. Calgary was ranked 113 out of 125 Canadian cities in the City Entrepreneurial Index: 2018, developed by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), trailing other Alberta cities like Edmonton (82), Fort McMurray (30) and Grande Prairie (6). The index looks at a series of metrics to determine whether a city promotes economic activity, or impedes entrepreneurship and job creation.

To reduce red tape, the city established a Business and Local Economy Unit that is winning accolades for helping small business cope with COVID 19-related closures. 

More broadly, the unit has reduced fees for business licences, eliminated the requirement for a business licence for home-based businesses that have a minimal impact on the surrounding residential neighborhood. It’s even established a central location – calgary.ca/business – to help obtain licenses and permit applications, tax information, projects of interest and grant opportunities.

More red tape may be coming as the city moves ahead with initiatives, from climate change plans to densification, that could lead to more government, not less.

City Hall

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Additional Resources

Public Poll: should we reduce red tape?

Strongly DisagreeDisagreeNeutralAgreeStrongly Agree
Red tape protects the public
The free market is enough to limit bad business behaviour
Calgary has too much red tape
It takes too long to start a business in Calgary
It is too expensive to start a business in Calgary