Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Red Tape Hurts

Nanaimo Has Bad Reputation For Red Tape
And Bureaucratic Foot Dragging

A common complaint you will hear among the Nanaimo business community is the difficulty they have when it comes to dealing with city hall, in particular the department responsible for construction. One thing I have found more than a little troubling is the reluctance on the part of local business people to 'go on record' with the troubles they have had getting approvals for fear they will be the subject of retaliation in future. This is not a new problem, nor did it just happen in the last month or so, it is a problem that has been going on for a long time at city hall, and out of fear those affected choose to remain silent.

Loaves and Fishes A Good Example

At yesterdays special city council meeting held at city hall, well known and respected contractor Mr. B. Wall addressed city council outlining the difficulties he has had getting the go ahead to raise the height of a building and install a new roof at the Loaves and Fishes food bank.

Mr. Walls company tries to take on one worthy project in the community every year which they do not for profit as their way of giving back to a community that they have done business in for over 40 years. It is a perfect example of the kind of business you want to encourage in Nanaimo and who clearly demonstrate they are a good corporate citizen.

The project for the Loaves and Fishes basically involved putting a new roof on their storage building which measures 22' x 29' and also raising the height of the walls to accommodate the use of a lift truck to offload pallets of food the food bank receives from local businesses. Currently the pallets of food are all being unloaded from the truck by hand and the increased height which would allow for a forklift to operate would greatly help all concerned.

For a company such as Mr. Wall's who employ five crews and are known for building major projects, this is a very simple project and should have been a slam dunk from the perspective of getting city approval. It is one of those jobs that could have been approved on the back of a napkin over coffee when dealing with a company of the stature of Mr. Walls.

Enter the city bureaucrats who after initial approval decided it was necessary to insist on getting a building permit, then a development variance permit costing $750, a survey of the property and finally the need for a demolition permit, which now have resulted in the builder being into month four of getting approval for a very simple project.

Councilor Kipp offered an explanation for the delay which made as much sense as anything I heard when he said "an hour delay is an hour pay" when he was referring to the foot dragging encountered with city hall staff when it comes to approving projects.

During his presentation Mr. Wall pointed out, in another jurisdiction since he knew what he needed to do before approaching city hall for approval he was able to get a building permit the same day for a significantly large project.

Why The Delays In Nanaimo ?

Taking this much time to get approval of such a simple project begs several questions, not the least of which is the actual competence of the city staff tasked with approving these projects. It would also once again point to a lack of clarity when it comes to defining what is allowable in Nanaimo (the LED sign issue is another perfect example) if you want to do business in our community, which claims to be business friendly, but acts to the contrary.

I will go out on a limb here and speculate that the 'suits' in city hall responsible for the inability to handle these permits in a timely fashion have never swung a hammer, nor cut a board and clearly have no sympathy for recognizing that there are a limited number of months when consturction can be done with good weather. This project at the loaves and fishes could have been done by now if city staff could ever get their act together.

The permit for the Loaves and Fishes project was actually approved by council at yesterdays meeting but it clearly points to problems at city hall when a company such as Wall Construction has to wait months to get the go ahead for such a simple, basic project which is helping a much needed service in the community.

I guess when you are living in the lvory tower, earning in excess of six figures and are rarely held responsible for your actions or even required to prove competence, you might have a tendancy to become isolated from the realities of those you are supposed to be serving.

Public SERVANTS? ......... don't get me started!!


No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comment will appear after moderation before publishing,

Thank you for your comments.Any comment that could be considered slanderous or includes unacceptable language will be removed.

Thank you for participating and making your opinions known.