Red tape preventing salon opening, say Calgarians

Two Calgarians who want to renovate an older home and start up a hair salon say their plans have been stymied by unusual demands and delays at city hall.

Shelley Anderson and her business partner bought a century-old home in the southwest community of Marda Loop last March.

Renovations were needed in order for it to become a hair salon, but Anderson says she is no closer to getting a permit after months of memos, meetings and confusion.

Anderson is wondering why similar businesses in houses close to her business didn't need to meet the same kinds of conditions, including digging a dry well to capture rainwater from the roof.

“The next door development was about $95,000 to do … almost identical to what we've done,” Anderson explained. "If we do everything the city wants us to do, now we're almost at $300,000.”

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says Anderson's troubles are hardly unique.

The group's Amber Ruddy is participating in the city's Cut Red Tape committee.

“The fact that [the city is] at the table at least is showing that they're beginning to understand there is a big problem there,” Ruddy said.

Transforming planning is a priority for Mayor Naheed Nenshi, but on this application his office referred CBC News to the city's planning department.

A senior official there says these applicants aren't being asked to do anything special and if they comply with existing rules, they'll get a permit.

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