Fear and Loathing In Lotusland

Yesterday on Twitter, Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung wrote:

“Attn all Vancouver #smallbusiness & businesses. If you are having a real challenge with City of Vancouver permitting, I’d like to hear from you to hear the problems firsthand, as well as try to help. My Council email is CLRkirby-yung@vancouver.ca & my phone is on City web.”

She was responding to numerous conversations that morning about how City of Vancouver permits and licensing are difficult. expensive, and frustratingly time consuming.  A journalist noted:

“I tried to write about this two years ago and couldn’t get any businesses to go on the record. They were fearful it could further delay their permits!!”

This seemed to be a not uncommon feeling and the words “petty” and “fear” were frequent.

I have a good friend who had a very lengthy, expensive, and frustrating experience a year or so ago when he was renovating an in-law suite. I asked him if he would speak with Councillor Kirby-Yung. His reaction:  “I would be happy to do that but it would have to be anonymous,” and he went on to describe issues he could expect from City Hall staff if he were to make his feelings public.

How can we have gotten to this state where an entrenched bureaucracy in our beautiful City can instil such fear in successful business people and tax-paying citizens who are just trying to improve their lives and their properties? What is going on here? Why is the City Manager allowing this to happen?

I wish Councillor Kirby-Yung the very best results with her inquiries, and would close by making it clear that calling out inefficiency is not a sign of disrespect to staff; but failure to root out the problem IS disrespectful to the tax-payers of Vancouver.


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