City of Surrey continues to see progress from guaranteed permitting timelines

Feb 15 2023, 4:39 am

After giving itself guaranteed permitting processing timelines in Fall 2021, the City of Surrey continues to see real progress in preventing unnecessary longer delays in approving housing and supporting businesses.

On Monday, City staff provided Surrey City Council with an update on the latest processing times. For each of the five different groups of guaranteed permitting processing timelines, the municipal government was able to stay within or below targets.

It should also be noted that while there is still a heavy volume of applications, their numbers have fallen in some categories compared to the same quarter in the previous year, possibly because of the current housing market slowdown.

For single-family dwelling permits, there was a processing time of 7.4 weeks in January 2023 — below the established guaranteed target of 10 weeks, but higher than 6.9 weeks during the fourth quarter of 2022.

City staff indicate they received 107 new single-family building permit applications in the fourth quarter of 2022, which is 57% lower than the number of applications received in the same quarter in 2021.

For tenant improvements, the processing time reached 5.9 weeks last month, which is well under the established guaranteed target of 10 weeks, and the nine weeks experienced in the fourth quarter of 2022. The City received 113 such applications in the last quarter of 2022, representing a 30% drop over the same quarter in 2021.

Rezoning applications for single-family dwellings saw a processing time of 9.8 weeks — below the guaranteed timeline of 12 weeks, and the 8.1 weeks recorded in the fourth quarter of 2022.

More complex rezoning applications for multi-family residential, commercial, and industrial buildings that do not need area plan amendments experienced processing timelines of 11.9 weeks in January 2023 — well below the guarantee of 16 to 20 weeks, and an improvement from the 12.6 weeks recorded in the fourth quarter of 2022.

In the year-to-date, the City has received 41 such applications, which is 10% higher than the number of applications received over the previous year.

City staff anticipate rezoning applications with a development permit will gradually see longer processing times closer to 16 weeks due to the complexity of the applications being processed.

“City Council is committed to streamlining permit processing and approval timelines,” said Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke in a statement, while noting that City staff has been regularly providing City Council with updates on permitting timeline fluctuations, and that they are continuously looking at ways to make further improvements to the permitting processes.

“Demand for development is high in Surrey and long permit times is one of the top concerns we hear about. Improving the process means not only more homes are being built, but there are more housing options available.”

Over the course of 2022, the City of Surrey processed 280 development permit applications and approved over $2 billion in building permit value, including nearly 4,500 new homes.

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