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A bid to streamline doing business in Wellesley

In dealing with government, every permit, amendment and application comes with its share of red tape, as any business owner well knows. In a new show of good faith, and as a way to gauge the opinions of local entrepreneurs, Wellesley Township is rolling out a survey for feedback on its policies for local business.

Jim Olender stands in downtown Wellesley, where most of the small businesses are owned by locals. He hopes rolling out a business survey will help to clear the way for less complicated interactions between the township and entrepreneurs, new and established.  [Elena Maystruk / The Observer]
Jim Olender stands in downtown Wellesley, where most of the small businesses are owned by locals. He hopes rolling out a business survey will help to clear the way for less complicated interactions between the township and entrepreneurs, new and established.
[Elena Maystruk / The Observer]
“We need to know what business is actually thinking, if our services are actually meeting their expectations. By sending out that survey we are doing what we need to improve and to make it easier for business to expand and get building permits or whatever they need to get businesses thriving. My idea is not to be a hindrance to them but to be a help to them,” said Coun. Jim Olender, who came up with the idea earlier in the year.

The survey has not been distributed widely in the township, but is slowly beginning to make the rounds, with people sharing it through social media links on Facebook, according to Wendy Sauder, local business owner and treasurer of the Wellesley and District Board of Trade.

“I’m glad that they are doing it, because we have some conflicting ideas on what is being placed where,” she said of the survey itself. “I think it’s important that people do look at it, it’s important that people fill it out. I noticed a few Facebook friends posted it out there for Wellesley people so everyone gets a chance to look at it. I’m glad people are getting it out there.”

Chris Franklin, the board’s president, said there has been little group discussion among members about just what township staff could improve on.

“I’m quite comfortable with the nature of my work, I don’t have issues. But, I can’t speak for the membership on a whole because we really haven’t had that discussion,” he said.

The survey is an attempt to have a dialogue with businesses in Wellesley to see how the township might be able to clear up some of the red tape and make it easier for individuals to apply for the programs and permits they need.

“I just want to hear from the business people what they actually think of our service and what we need to do to improve that service,” Olender explained.

“There’s been some stuff: It’s taken too long to get this, it’s taken too long to get that, in some cases they don’t realize that it’s also the region that holds some of this stuff up, too. What I want to know is that if they have a concern, we can get a message back to them that we will help them get through the hoops.”

The survey would also let council know that staff is doing their job, he added.

Any criticism and even negativity from resident business owners is welcome, said junior planner Sarah Peck, who created the survey.

“I hope that people give constructive criticism. It would be the worst thing to say that we are doing fine because then there would have been no point in doing this. The whole purpose is to get the constructive criticism so we can do a better job. I’m really looking forward to that criticism so we know how to improve our services.”

After staff garners enough feedback, a report will be made to council.

Though it’s mandatory for business owners to identify themselves and their business in the initial survey (business name, type of operation, approximate number of employees), the future report on the findings to council will keep comments anonymous, Peck said.

“Like all other municipalities, there’s too much red tape and the process of applying for different township applications is too confusing: building permits, site plans, bylaw amendments, etc.,” said Peck.

Though all companies are encouraged to take the survey, the study does have a focus group encompassing the township’s industrial and commercial businesses operating within designated settlement areas, and industrial commercial businesses operating outside of said areas which occupy an area exceeding more than 6,000 square feet.

The goal is to clear the way for businesses to flourish in Wellesley, Olender said, and he is not limiting his scope to current business in the township. The councillor hopes this effort and future changes of township policies will “show a friendly face” to prospective businesses looking to open up shop in the township.

The Wellesley business survey can be filled out online via a link near the top of the Wellesley Township website at www.township.wellesley.on.ca.

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