Last night Burlington City Council unanimously approved a set of 22 recommendations brought forth as a result of the Red Tape Red Carpet Task Force initiative that I announced on January 30th of this year.
The input and insights from Burlington’s business community helped shape these recommendations over the past 7 months through a town hall, focus groups, an online survey, 1:1 meetings and email feedback from a diverse group of business owners and developers.
I, along with my co-chair Councillor Kelvin Galbraith, are grateful for the time and effort put forth by everyone who contributed to this initiative and got us to the point where we can now begin acting on this list of 22 deliverables that will make it easier to do business in Burlington. Some of these changes will happen more quickly than others as we implement new processes and allocate resourcing, and you can follow along with our progress online. When we are done, I am confident that we will have removed unnecessary red tape and rolled out the red carpet for new and existing businesses to grow, relocate and thrive in the city of Burlington.
Cutting Red Tape:
1. Establish a position at City Hall to act as our Chief of Business Development, serving as a primary outreach for attracting new businesses to Burlington, overseeing and expediting applications through the system and reporting progress and obstacles regularly to City Council and the City Manager via a monthly dashboard.
2. Develop and implement targets and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), including timelines for processing business applications, for all staff in planning, building & development teams.
3. Streamline and optimize the zoning, site grading and Committee of Adjustment processes for faster execution and resolution, considering recommendations from industry professionals.
4. Optimize the City of Burlington website with relevant, informative and easy-to-find content that is search-optimized and externally marketed in order to support businesses through their journey with us
5. Implement improved customer service technology including a self-serve online portal for applicants including the ability to submit and check on the status of their applications.
6. Explore additional paid “Fast Track” options for rush projects and business applications in areas in addition to the existing fast track for building permits, while also ensuring the delivery date results in a firm decision.
7. Foster a strong and meaningful culture of high performance and employee recognition
8. Review the agribusiness rules, zoning, and definitions to encourage diversified use and help support economic sustainability for our rural/farming businesses.
9. Establish a rural-point-of-contact person who can navigate agriculture requests (business or otherwise) with other agencies.
10. Target completion of all minor site plan reviews and zoning clearances within 30 days.
11. Implement an acceptable Standard Deviation for development related plans and drawings that better accounts for the use of imperial measurements (e.g. 0.00m or 3/16″).
Rolling out the Red Carpet:
12. Develop a clear vision and associated branding strategy at the City of Burlington with respect to business attraction and development.
13. Mayor and leadership team act as Chief Salespeople, actively seeking out opportunities to bring new business to Burlington.
14. Make business attraction/retention a standing item for discussion at all Planning & Development Committee meetings.
15. Launch monthly Subject Matter Expert (SME) drop-in sessions where businesses can come ask questions and get advice and guidance from experts from the City of Burlington and partner organizations.
16. Create an “Open for Business” customer service window, ideally on the first floor of City Hall, co-locating key staff from different business-related departments for easy public access and on-the-spot collaboration & problem solving.
17. Review the efficiency, effectiveness and optimal structure of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation and TechPlace, as well as the opportunity for a Municipal Development Corporation, in achieving the city’s business attraction and retention goals.
18. City Manager to review and implement changes to the City’s organizational structure and business processes to give priority strategic focus to enhanced economic and business development working closely with the BEDC.
19. Explore opportunities to use city parking supply as a leverage for business attraction and address existing downtown parking challenges.
20. Consider the establishment of a venture capital fund to support business attraction (use Innisfil Accelerates as an example/model – innisfilaccelerates.ca).
21. Increase municipal advocacy by the Mayor and senior leaders at the City of Burlington with other levels of government and partner agencies to speed up their approvals as part of the overall development process.
22. Develop a Brownfield Community Improvement Plan for the City of Burlington with said plan to include redevelopment goals, specific targets, actions, and an implementation and monitoring strategy.
To see the formal report from the September 23rd city council meeting, click the link and head to page 16 — Agenda Package – Regular Meeting of Council_Sep23_2019.
- Red Tape Red Carpet Draft Recommendations Report Tabled at Burlington Council Meeting
- Council Votes to Review Burlington Economic Development Corporation and TechPlace
- Mayor’s Report: MO-06-19 Red Tape Red Carpet Task Force recommendations
- MO-06-19 Appendix A Chief Of Business Development Roles and Responsibilities
- MO-06-19 Appendix B – Zoning Diagram
- Red Tape Red Carpet Task Force Meeting – May 15, 2019
- Rural Business Focus Group Highlights
- Development and Real Estate Industry Focus Group Highlights
- Large Business and Manufacturers Focus Group Highlights
- City Staff and Partner Organization Focus Group Highlights
- Small Business Focus Group Highlights
- Red Tape Red Carpet Task Force Launches with Town Hall for Burlington’s Business Community