Edmonton small business owners take city hall to task over ‘red tape and delays’

It’s been a long haul but the finishing touches are finally being put into place at Fleisch Delikatessen, soon to open in the Forest Heights community in east Edmonton.

“It was just the sequence of events that steamrolled,” said co-owner Katy Ingraham on a recent tour.

Ingraham and her business partner “took the leap” on opening the deli in the fall of 2017, next door to Cartago, Ingraham’s other business venture.

The initial development permit, however, was declined because of a lack of parking; a puzzling decision for the entrepreneurs.

The deli is located in a newer building the city approved that only provided one parking spot for the two commercial bays.

An appeal was launched, which ruled in favour of the deli.

But the process has taken a toll. With so much time passing, one of the original lenders back away from financing, Ingraham said, due to overall concern about the strength of the hospitality sector in Alberta.

A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to keep the project going.

“I’ve said this before that, you know, taking a risk is the most Edmonton thing you can do; we hear that all the time,” Ingraham said. “That it really is a cautionary tale.”

“At every step of the way, we were thwarted by red tape and delays.”

Ingraham understands the need for a process but she decided to speak out because she and her business partner feel burned despite their work to a part of a vision of Edmonton city hall is pushing.

One councillor told Global News that business owners should be able to take a chance but that the city, in turn, has to be clear about what is and isn’t acceptable, and respond quickly.

“The appeal system is there for a reason, we’re not going to change that,” Ward 11 Councillor Mike Nickel said.

“You can change the front-end loading of that appeal, so that appeal doesn’t happen to begin with. That’s what the city needs to step up and do.”

“It has been a strain on us personally,” Ingraham said.

Originally, the plan was to have the deli open in spring 2019. The new opening is expected sometime in March 2020.

“If you want something and you believe in it and you have the vision to do that, you need to have the leadership to get it there,” Ingraham said.


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