The Alberta Government recently removed more than 215 000 business requirements in an effort to support local businesses.
This is around a 33 percent reduction from the 631000 previously existing regulatory requirements. Past Chair of the Strathmore Wheatland Chamber of Commerce (SWCC) Hayley Poirier says having fewer restrictions frees things up for local businesses to thrive.
"Our small business owners have always asked for clear and easy ways to operate, and I believe that by reducing some of these policies, business owners are going to be able to make quicker decisions and pivot as needed. If anybody has looked into trying to follow some of the rules that we've had in the past with the government, you know that you get caught up in bureaucracy. Hopefully, this will continue to help us eliminate some of that," she said.
Strathmore has seen a decline in local businesses, going from 537 in 2019 to 511 in 2021. Poirier says the red tape reduction should start bringing that number back up.
"We do believe at the SWCC that we're seeing a nice turn back into seeing some new businesses come on board in both our villages, the county, and in Strathmore as well. Talking with the different municipalities, they are definitely seeing an uptick in their business licensing."
A big focus of this red tape reduction was liquor sales. The Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) made several changes to allow more flexibility regarding alcohol sales, including:
- Bars and restaurants selling liquor and mixed drinks for delivery and consumption off-premises.
- Restaurants and bars serving liquor on patios not directly attached to the licensed premises.
- Liquor manufacturers and agencies provide complimentary sealed liquor samples for consumption at home.
- Off-premises virtual liquor tastings.
Poirier says she was talking with local business owners at an outdoor event in Strathmore, and the relaxed liquor laws have seen an incredible amount of support.
"We were all kind of discussing the idea of being able to enjoy a beverage while at an event. Every one of those people that I talked to was in favour of this idea."
The possibility of relaxed liquor laws has Poirier and Strathmore businesses thinking big.
"Some of our downtown business owners love the idea of having the possibility of a festival. To have an outdoor festival where we maybe have people wandering down the street in the late afternoon or into the evening and be able to go store-to-store while consuming an adult beverage is a very positive thing for these business owners."
While the red tape reduction has been met with a lot of support, Poirier also said it's important to stay responsible and have everyone on the same page.
"We need to make sure that our local bylaw and enforcement officers are involved in helping navigate some of these rule changes. It might be things like the public consumption of alcohol, or road closures if we're talking about an event where people are wandering in the streets in one of our villages, walking down main street store-to-store, or in downtown Strathmore."
"We need to know that we have to be responsible. With responsibility comes the need to know what the rules are."
You can read the full government report here.
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