City of Vancouver makes progress on clearing big backlog of new home applications

Mar 30 2022, 4:24 am

Amidst growing criticism from housing advocates and the provincial government that the inefficient permitting processes of municipal governments in BC are partially to blame for the housing crisis, the City of Vancouver says it has made some new progress in clearing its massive backlog.

City staff told Vancouver City Council in December 2021 that they were facing an intake backlog of about 500 applications for single-family, duplex, and laneway homes, after experiencing over double the number of applications in 2021 compared to 2020.

But as of today, according to a release, 450 applications are now being processed, and the remaining applications are back with the proponents, as more information is needed to complete the review.

“We know businesses and residents expect our support with post-pandemic economic recovery, and we are excited to see that all the permit improvements we have made are having a positive impact,” said Andrea Law, general manager of development, buildings, and licensing for the City of Vancouver.

“We remain committed to improving our permitting and licensing programs through open and transparent collaboration with industry partners and stakeholders.”

According to the city, in addition to clearing the single-family property application backlog, city staff have also implemented various measures to improve processing times.

Review time per application for single-family, duplex, and laneway homes have been reduced by 75%, leading to a 300% increase in applications processed. Applicants are now contacted within two to three business days from application submission — a drastic improvement that is 15 to 16 weeks faster, which provides immensely greater certainty that the application is in-stream to be reviewed. As well, the initial plan review now occurs during application intake, and is two weeks quicker than before.

Other improvements include laneway home applications now seeing their initial review three months faster, and the direct-to-inspections process now issuing permits in as little as two weeks for simple renovations — seven weeks faster than previous.

Guided by the city manager’s task force and city council, the municipal government states it is continuing to look at ways to improve the efficiency and speed of its permitting and licensing processes.

Later this spring, a dedicated fast-track online enquiry and application portal will be launched to make it easier for businesses seeking a change in use or occupancy.

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