City of Vancouver seeking feedback on breaking building permitting red tape

Jan 16 2019, 7:53 pm

It is a step in the right direction.

The City of Vancouver is one small step closer towards making necessary reforms to its regulations, policies, and processes for planning, development, and building.

Two open houses will be held on January 29 and February 2 at Vancouver City Hall to provide the general public and the construction and development industry with an opportunity to voice their concerns and issues with the current systems in place. Feedback can also be submitted online.

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It is part of the municipal government’s review to simplify and clarify regulations, improve the consistency of regulations and policies, streamline permit review processes, ensure land use regulations align with new policies and priorities, and improve communication and information sharing.

In recent years, backlogs in building permits have seen approval times soar to nearly two years, resulting in real consequences to housing supply and the cost of construction.

For instance, delays have inhibited property owners from utilizing their properties for an intended revenue-generating purpose, while still paying for property taxes.

Long delays have also led to a mismatch in the original budgets set aside for construction, with years-long permitting delays sending development costs upwards due to the inflation in labour and material prices during this period.

When it comes to building policies, some of the city’s newer policies even conflicts with older policies, leading to confusion for both applicants and city staff.

Following public and industry consultation, staff will report to city council on recommendations for new policies and processes by this summer. If approved, the reforms could be implemented sometime in the third quarter of 2019.

In the meantime, several immediate interim relief measures were enacted by the previous city council last year.

This includes updates to RS zones, clarifying decision-making authority throughout the bylaw, providing more flexibility for artist studio live and workspaces, simplifying review processes, and reviewing some outdated policies.

The municipal government is also currently conducting a fast-lane pilot program to expedite the permitting process for single-family homes. It is working with a limited number of “experienced designers and builders,” and if the pilot is a success it could be scaled, with the hope that it will reduce permit times for new single-family homes and laneway homes to just six to eight weeks.

Additionally, the municipal government plans to hire 75 additional full-time staff across three departments relating to permitting by 2020 to help reduce the backlog.

City of Vancouver Regulation Redesign Open House Winter 2019

When: 5 pm to 7 pm on Tuesday, Janaury 29 and 1 pm to 4 pm on Saturday, February 2, 2019

Where: Townhouse Meeting Room at Vancouver City Hall — 453 West 12th Avenue, Vancouver