Chatham-Kent Civic Centre, July 23, 2015. (Photo by Mike Vlasveld)

CK aims to keep cutting red tape

The municipality is vowing to continue its efforts in helping businesses thrive in Chatham-Kent.

During Monday night’s council meeting, a final report was presented detailing the Continuous Improvement and Red Tape Reduction project that has been underway since the summer of 2018. The project looked at how different departments of the municipality can work together to improve community development and make it easier for business owners to grow.

Red tape is defined in the report as “the perceived level of municipal service” and “the municipality’s ability to guide those engaging in our services through a process to their end goal.” The detailed document focused on two main goals of cutting red tape which include the municipality working to establish clear development goals as well as improving the user experience and engaging people that use municipal services.

To help reach those goals, the municipality’s Community Development Department critically examined its own operations over the last year and got feedback from a variety of sources including municipal staff and community stakeholders. Earlier this year there was an open house held on the topic, where the municipality heard from several residents who shared their frustrations when it came to trying to develop in the area.

While presenting the report to council on Monday, general manager of community development John Norton said he was happy to see all the work that went into it.

“I think its great news,” said Norton. “The community development department has spent the last year working hard to continuously improve our processes. I think that development is being handled now in a much more efficient more business-friendly manner.”

Now that the internal review has been completed, Norton said the municipality will begin to “lift their eyes” to the community and move forward to encourage growth.

“What we have found is that there is a need for this council and us as a municipality to invest in infrastructure to allow growth to happen,” explained Norton. “So we are now working on that process.”

Some of the biggest improvements to the user experience that have been implemented as a result of the project include:

• Economic Development relocating to a new, more centralized location in the Chatham-Kent Community Futures building

•The Economic Development Department revamping its website and increasing its social media presence

•Customers now have just one number to call for building inspections while the Building Development Services Department has begun operating a queue system where the next available inspector is assigned to a specific file

•Planning Services more diligently following the “complete application” requirements to ensure that the department has all the necessary information before deeming a planning application complete and accepting it

•Building Development Services updating its documents, application forms, and website

Currently, the municipality is also working on an official plan comprehensive review, a defined planning process that municipalities must follow when they want to consider expanding their urban boundaries to accommodate future growth and development. Phase 1 of the plan review will wrap up in fall 2019 and then phase 2 will begin which will involve public consultation.

Read the complete report by clicking here.