Saturday, January 9, 2016

When the Solution for Red Tape is Wound in....Red Tape

Two days ago, I gave a presentation to The Department of Business... Here's what I saw-   a room full of engaged, young people.  Truly attentive people that made eye contact with me and nodded their heads while I spoke.  They were listeners and they cared.  When my presentation was over they asked many intelligent questions and when I walked out I felt that if these people are the future of Nova Scotia then everything might be just fine.

So, when Sheldon Macleod asked me if I would like to speak about my presentation on the radio this coming Friday at 2:00, I said, sure, absolutely and I thought, while live radio interviews are at the top of my 'things that terrify me' list, at least I will be able to give an upbeat report.

This morning I received an e-mail from the NS Building Codes Coordinator, who heads the Building Advisory Committee.   I want to be very clear here, so that no undue offense is taken.  This is a very nice man that has treated me with great respect and is doing his job in a professional manner.  He has patiently responded to every one of my questions and has even taken the time to keep me informed as to the entire process of how recommendations are made to the Minister of Municipal Affairs.   So, nothing that I am about to say is questioning these facts or questioning his professionalism.  He had read this past blog post,
Dear Government of Nova Scotia   and was informing me as to the lengthy process required to change the Nova Scotia Building Code Regulations and then the process of the recommendations subsequently being adopted.  This is all understandable.

Please let me explain my frustration and this is, once again, being addressed to our government who has a stated mandate to remove red tape for businesses.  I'll begin with the following definition of red tape, courtesy of Wikepedia:
 Red tape is an idiom that refers to excessive regulation or rigid conformity to formal rules that is considered redundant or bureaucratic and hinders or prevents action or decision-making. It is usually applied to governments, corporations, and other large organizations.

Now, let's go back and review this conundrum facing Home Based Businesses in Rural NS.  Home based business owners  in Lunenburg and elsewhere are being ordered to violate the zoning rules of their towns, by constructing  commercial occupancies in exclusively residential zones.  These businesses are permitted by the Land Use Bylaw of the places I am talking about. 

 If Halifax did not have clear understanding as to how land use informs the building code, if the rest of Canada did not have clear understanding of how land use informs the building code, if North America did not have this same, clear understanding of how land use informs the building code, then I would say, by all means, let's research the heck out of this, meet for months on end to discuss how the building code relates to home occupancies, commission studies and go through all due process.  

If the province had not commissioned a brilliant and forceful report  that chose the title of Now or Never in a desperate attempt to light a fire under our collective behinds, that conveyed how urgent it is to support entrepreneurship in this province,  if I was not witnessing fellow business owners leaving NS and others on the outside waiting patiently for the the green light of clarification to put down roots in this glorious place....if there was not this gigantic elephant in the room called,  UNDERSTANDING, in HRM and in so many places, then I would be all over this intensive research. 

However, the understanding exists and we have people in this province like those in the HRM , who can sit down with the deputy minister of Municipal Affairs and the deputy minister of Business and explain this all so perfectly and clearly.  Then these same two deputy ministers could take this information and double check it with Ontario or British Columbia, whose Building Codes look a lot like our own  and then formulate a strong statement for the benefit of rural municipalities. That is what would help.  That is what cutting red tape looks like.  Taking the most obvious route between point A and point B.

That is what we are waiting for.  Leadership.  

Sure, go ahead, rewrite the book simultaneously, if that is what you  feel needs to be done, but this issue is so solveable and can be tackled from so many angles.  To ignore those that already get all this stuff is simply unconscionable.  If this can't be fixed easily then I despair.  I really do.

Yes, I know, in politics it is...political.  One municipality takes great offense when they perceive they are being told what to do by another municipality,  the province can not tell a municipality what to do,  for all I know from my little, limited hat world maybe the province does not want to take advice from Halifax.  I don't know much, but I know that if we don't put our egos aside to serve the future of this province that the future is grim. 

Could we perhaps, just this once, as Mr. Ivany suggested, come together to find solutions.  Business as usual is not good enough.  The status quo will not get us out of this mess.  Strong action is needed.  Nova Scotia can not afford to not see the elephant of understanding in the room.  Please, go meet the elephant.  It can only help.  Nova Scotia needs to look inwards at what is happening in its largest municipality and outwards at what is happening in the rest of Canada.  Rewriting the book is red tape.

 Red Tape is not the best solution for red tape.  You are losing us, here.
 I really don't want to talk on the radio anymore or even write these difficult blog posts.  I want to make hats.

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