Reducing Red Tape

Regulatory Modernization Project

The Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) is committed to promoting economic activity and building prosperous and resilient communities by reducing regulatory red tape. This will make it easier to do business here and support market innovation. Modernizing the municipality’s regulatory environment (by-laws, administrative rules, processes, and decision-making procedures) will support both economic and community development and will help deliver high-value public service.

Joint Project for Regulatory Modernization 

The Halifax Regional Municipality and the Province of Nova Scotia formed a partnership in 2017called the Joint Project for Regulatory Modernization, to reduce regulatory red tape for business and align both governments approach to regulatory reform.

This collaboration has resulted in a number of specific improvements to municipal and provincial regulation to remove regulatory burden in areas of importance to business. In doing so, HRM and the Province of Nova Scotia have reduced costs for business and for government which will help support economic growth and public service delivery. Better regulation delvers better policy outcomes, benefiting the entire community.  

News on Current Regulatory Modernization Actions

Online Permitting, Planning, Licensing and Compliance (PPL&C) Solution

The third, and final Release, (R3) of the Permit, Planning, Licensing & Compliance (PPL&C) online solution will be rolled out to the public in December 2022. This release will bring planning processes such as variances, subdivisions, site plan approvals, development agreements, re-zoning, and By-law amendments online. Now, in addition to applying for a permit  and/or a license, businesses & individuals will also be able to apply for planning work (Release 3) online 24/7. 

Here are some key features of our online PPL&C solution:
- Apply online 24/7 - when it's convenient for you   
Secure online payments accepted
Unified records
- Full integration with Open Data and the municipal GIS map database.

Specific to the online planning solution:
- Subdivisions, with infrastructure applications, will be changing to allow customers better insight into the process. This will be facilitated through the customer portal where inspections can be requested online.
We’ll be setting an upfront, flat fee for Planning Applications and will charge the remainder (as outlined in Administrative Order 15) once the initial review is completed and any required changes to the application (s) are determined.
All measurement fields in the online system must be entered using metric measurements only.

We anticipate our Permitting, Planning, Licensing & Compliance solution will significantly reduce red-tape for businesses, residents, and for the municipality, with both cost and time savings associated with this initiative. Have questions or comments related to the online planning solution? Email us.

Governing Policy for Regulation and Regulatory Impact Assessment

HRM adopted a Charter of Governing Principles for Regulation in 2018 as one of the first actions under the Joint Project for Regulatory Modernization with the Province. It establishes red-tape reduction requirements for staff and Council when considering new regulation and its implementation. 

HRM’s goal is to only use regulation when it’s the best policy tool. When considering new regulation, a Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) and Business Impact Assessment (BIA) must be completed to understand the costs and benefits of regulation and to consider non-regulatory policy solutions. 

Regulatory Impact Assessments have been conducted for regulatory proposals that Regional Council considered in 2021-2022 including: 
- By-law B-800 Business Opening Hours By-law N-207 Construction Related  Noise
- By-law N-200 Noise Management and Mitigation in Downtown Areas Argyle Street Entertainment District 
- By-law U-109 Property Information Inquiry User Charges (FOIPOP) 
- By-law T-1000 Taxis, accessible taxis, limousines, and transportation Network Companies (broker fee systems/vehicle for Hire)  

Updating By-laws and Improving Customer Service

To align regulations with the Charter of Governing Principles for Regulation, By-laws and administrative processes are being updated to make rules more business and customer friendly including:

- The application process for a sidewalk café license was simplified to save businesses time and money each year when renewing or establishing their outdoor patios.
The HRM Streets By-law was amended to allow for an annual permit to conduct routine work in the municipal right-of-way like maintaining signs, rather than multiple approvals.
- The Temporary Sign By-law was amended to allow for an annual permit to install multiple temporary signs without needing individual permits for each sign.
- The Noise By-law was amended to allow recurring special events and festivals to get noise exemption approval through HRM staff rather than Regional Council. 

Improving Customer Service: 
- Adoption of an online application system for permits, licenses, inspections, and compliance services
- Implementation of a new Business Satisfaction Survey for red tape reduction
- Development of a Regulatory Modernization Performance Measurement Framework  
- Development of a Business Customer Engagement Strategy

Collaborating with the Province

Through the Joint Project for Regulatory Modernization, HRM and the Province identify specific areas where the two governments can work together to modernize regulation including:     
- Adoption of new legislation and regulation for the operation of e-scooters on municipal roads. 
- Consideration of administrative alignment and customer service improvements to streamline building occupancy permitting.
- Consideration of new legislation to allow the use of Traffic Photo Enforcement in HRM to improve road safety.
- Research and proposed solutions to modernize building official/inspector training and certification to help address the housing crisis and development needs. 

Continuous Regulatory Improvement and Red Tape Reduction 

Regulatory modernization is not a one-time project, it’s an ongoing process of reviewing and updating regulations, conducting regulatory impact assessments when government is considering new regulation to deliver public policy, and continuously improving customer service and business processes. 

As part of the Municipality’s ongoing regulatory modernization work, new ways of engaging with business stakeholders, and collaborating with governments and organizations are being explored and tested.  

Business Satisfaction and Red tape Reduction Survey

The Halifax Regional Municipality conducted its first Business Satisfaction and Red tape Reduction Survey in 2021 to collect information on how and where regulatory “red tape” is impacting businesses and municipal operations including administrative or regulatory compliance obligations that add unnecessary cost or burden and have minimal public service value. Input from the survey is being used to inform operational planning committees and to prioritize regulatory modernization actions. The business survey will be conducted approximately every 18-24 months and data will be used to measure HRM’s progress in reducing red tape.  

The survey data will be used to identify HRM’s Red Tape Reduction (RTR) priorities and to develop a multi-year RTR strategy and action plan.

The next Business Satisfaction and Red Tape Reduction Survey will be conducted in Summer 2023 with a goal of improving upon the results from 2021 regarding how businesses are impacted by red tape in HRM. 

A graphic detailing the results and improvements of the Red Tape Reduction Action Plan