Metro Vancouver cities receiving funding to create efficient building approval processes

Sep 15 2021, 10:39 am

A total of 43 local and municipal governments across BC have been allocated funding to create more efficient approvals processes and systems for building development proposals, especially for housing.

This includes nine municipalities within Metro Vancouver, namely Vancouver ($500,000), Surrey ($500,000), Port Moody ($404,000), North Vancouver City ($470,000), Maple Ridge ($145,000), Langley Township ($500,000), Delta ($500,000), Coquitlam ($465,000), and Burnaby ($500,000).

The major municipal governments of Vancouver, Surrey, and Coquitlam, for instance, are using their funding towards making a new digital development application platform to simplify the process for both applicants and city staff.

Coquitlam will create a new portal to enhance and centralize communications between applicants and city staff, and increase the use of automation to modernize the permit application and approvals process.

Langley Township has specifically noted it will use new software to transition its development application process to an online system. This includes digital submission and payment tools, workflow and application status updates, and the ability to respond to application requests for additional information through the software.

“Introducing a digital system for development applications will streamline the process and improve the efficiencies of the development process for staff and applicants alike,” said Ramin Seifi, general manager of engineering and community development, for Langley Township in a statement.

“Finding new techniques to increase efficiency and facilitate better communication helps us move toward more innovative community planning and development work overall.”

In March 2021, the provincial government announced $15 million in funding to assist municipal governments in improving their development permit application systems. Cities were invited to submit proposals for how they will use the funding to improve their processes, with the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) administering the program on behalf of the province. UBCM announced the successful recipients earlier this month.

Provincial assistance for improving the appropriate technology required to process proposals was a recommendation made in a recent report jointly commissioned by the provincial and federal governments.

Municipal governments, especially Vancouver, have increasingly been under fire in recent years for their permitting delays, which are a contributing factor to the region’s housing affordability and supply issues, stall job-creating economic development, and are a costly burden to small businesses.

“The demand for development in Surrey is rapidly growing, and by improving the development approval process we will increase the delivery of all types of housing, while also supporting economic recovery,” said Surrey mayor Doug McCallum.

“Council has worked hard to modernize the permit process since taking office, and this new program, backed by the Province, will further reduce wait times and remove barriers to increasing essential housing in our City.”

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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