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Regional committee looks to speed post-COVID economic recovery

Sue Foxton

With the local economy starting to open up, Region of Waterloo council’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Committee met for the first time last week with the goal of greasing the wheels.

Made up of regional councillors, the committee is focused on supports for local business, including tax policy, reducing red tape and stimulating capital spending.

“The system is really full of a lot of red tape and cumbersome. So, we want to say, ‘OK, let’s not duplicate things, but let’s see what we can streamline,’” said North Dumfries Mayor Sue Foxton, who represents the four townships, of the committee’s goal.

In looking at red tape, Foxton pointed to a standard practice of referring planning issues to the Grand River Conservation Authority for comment even when the location is not near GRCA lands or rivers. The practice both costs applicants money and has the potential to slow the process.

“Why should it even be sent to them? It doesn’t involve them. It shouldn’t be sent to them. It’s just costing the person more money.”

In addition to cutting ‘red tape,’ the team is also reviewing capital spending, tax policy and general stimulus activities.

Regional Chair Karen Redman also sits on the newly formed committee. She said she “is hoping that it [the committee] will look at the instruments and the tools that are available to the region. For instance, planning approvals and things like that, as well as how we apply development charges as we come out of this COVID pandemic downturn in the economy – if there are things that we can do that will enhance the ability of the business community and corporate Waterloo Region to invest in the region and take away any barriers that might exist.”

Regional Coun. Sean Strickland, who sits on the committee representing Waterloo, said the goal is to move ahead with reviving the economy.

“It’s vital that our region moves into the next phase of pandemic control and economic recovery. We want to help our community bounce back as quickly and safely as possible,” he said in a release.

After the June 18 meeting , the COVID economic recovery team will bring its findings to the council through Redman, who will address the issues and needs with the board for budget 2021. Meetings are open to view for the public through the region’s website.

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