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BizPal to streamline business permit applications

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Whistler’s entrepreneurs now have shorter bridges to cross when it comes to establishing small businesses.

Diane Ablonczy, federal secretary of state for small business and tourism, was in Whistler on May 22 to announce Whistler’s participation in BizPal, an online business permit and license service meant to reduce red tape and help businesses get started faster.

“Things just got a whole lot easier for businesses in Whistler,” she said. “We are very excited because this helps small businesses, which, really, are the backbone of our economy.”

It works like this: entrepreneurs can log on to BizPal through the websites for either the Resort Municipality of Whistler or the Whistler Chamber of Commerce.

The user is then guided through a series of questions that ask them to identify the type of business they hope to operate, whether food, retail or otherwise. The user must then answer a series of questions related to areas such as electrical wiring, zoning and various other considerations when establishing a business.

Once the questions are answered, the user is shown which permits they will need to apply for at every level of government, including municipal, provincial and federal levels.

Ablonczy said Whistler is one of the first municipalities to sign up for the program, despite the fact that over 100 communities have already signed up for the service, and over 30 of them are in British Columbia.

Gordon McKeever, acting mayor for the RMOW, was also on hand for the announcement.

Before BizPal, he said the process of applying for a business license was a matter of “trial and error” and said the new program can inform entrepreneurs about the permits they need in a single web portal, reducing the amount of time it takes to figure out what to apply for.

“Our government benefits as we will now be able to provide more timely and pertinent license information online,” McKeever said. “The community at large benefits as businesses are better able to focus on what's important — growing and improving businesses and services.”

He added that over 30 different types of licenses and permits can be accessed through BizPal.

“This is very important in a place like Whistler where the economy is largely generated by small business,” he said. “I have previewed the program and I see that it’s user-friendly and an effective program in determining businesses’ unique needs and regulatory requirements.”

Rick Thorpe, British Columbia’s minister of small business and revenue, was also present at the announcement and said that, based on his experience as a businessman, too much time is being taken up by applications for permits.

BizPal, he said, can help streamline that process.

“You've got all these things in one place so people can actually get that menu of things they can do,” Thorpe said. “This is another step in how we make things easier to streamline and simplify for businesses.”

Many of BizPal’s questions concern matters that can be encountered far into the process of starting a business, such as whether the entrepreneur will install a new elevator or change existing electrical wiring.

Thorpe, however, said BizPal should be a first stop for entrepreneurs.

“You might want to know how far it is across the lake before you start swimming across the lake,” he said. “If you go down and you're developing your business plan and you go to your bank... you can incorporate all of those things that you've thought about and those folks will know that you're very serious.”

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