Canadian Pizza Magazine

Halifax ‘patio police’ win red tape crown for burdening small business

By Canadian Pizza   

News cfrb halifax regional municipality patio police red tape small business

Toronto – As part of January’s Red Tape Awareness Week, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business announced its annual Paperweight Award winners, citing examples of government agencies and departments’ misguided rules, hard-to-follow processes and bad customer service.

“This year’s Paperweight winners represent ‘specific irritants’ that are costing small businesses time and money,” said Satinder Chera, vice-president at CFIB, in a news release. “Whether it’s governments going back on their word, or forcing business owners to fill out online forms they don’t need to, or temporarily taking away a service without saying when it will be restored, these leading 2016 examples of red tape are ones that should be the easiest for government to fix.”

Municipal Winner: Here come the Halifax ‘patio police’
In Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), rules about restaurant patios, and the way those rules are enforced, are getting out of hand, the CFIB said. New patio regulations are less clear than in the past, and responsibility for inspection and approval is now split over several different city departments, leading to unnecessary costs for business owners. One popular Argyle Street restaurant that had bolted their patio railing to the sidewalk for 20 years with city approval, was recently told to use cinder blocks to support the railing instead. Another restaurant on the same street got its patio designs approved by the city, only to be told after it was built that the railing was a few inches too close to the sidewalk. Both faced fines over a thousand dollars, and spent close to that amount to comply with the new rules.

Provincial Winner: Ontario recycling authority wasting everyone’s time
Manufacturers and importers are required to report on product packaging and recycling of printed paper to Stewardship Ontario through a long, poorly-designed online form. Small businesses in the industry that are not required to report have no way of knowing for sure what their obligations are until they start completing the online form.  After filling several parts of the form, the process abruptly stops without a clear explanation. When users call Stewardship Ontario for clarification they are told their business is not required to report. They then have to find the poorly marked checkbox on the form which indicates that they are exempt.


Federal Winner: Website not found – Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) drops small biz site
The CBSA website’s small business section was a key source for small business owners looking for information on trading with the United States. With no warning, the CBSA dropped the section from their website, including the specific call centre number they had for SMEs. The website no longer has any SME-specific information. The CBSA says the removal is temporary, while they move to the consolidated website, but no timeline has been given, leaving business owners without access to government trade-related information tailored to small importers.

Government red tape is a hidden tax that affects Canada’s small businesses much more than larger firms, the release said. The annual cost of all regulations on businesses in Canada is pegged at $37 billion per year, with one-third of that ($11 billion) considered red tape.

Read the full list of finalists for the 2016 Paperweight Award at

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