West Vancouver records "unprecedented" building application backlog 

Apr 1 2022, 1:13 am

Cities across Metro Vancouver are experiencing backlogs in their permitting processes for home building applications, and even West Vancouver — where there is typically less building activity — is no exception.

In a bulletin to property owners and builders earlier this month, the District of West Vancouver stated it is facing “unprecedented levels” of new building permit applications.

As a baseline, over the past three years, the municipal government saw an average of 40 new building permit applications each month. But in late 2021 and early 2022, it saw the volume of applications exponentially increase.

There were 82 applications in November 2021, 129 in December 2021, and 209 in January 2022 for a combined total of 420 applications over three consecutive months. This represents 10.5 months’ volume in just three months.

It is currently anticipated to take between four and six months to clear the backlog from this three-month period.

“This volume includes building permits for renovations, tenant improvements, and new single-family homes. As time goes on after the permits are processed, the backlog will move down the process and impact other stages of construction, like inspections,” reads the bulletin.

“If you have submitted a building permit application, please be prepared to adjust your construction schedule.”

District staff are separating smaller, less complex permit applications into a separate stream to reduce wait times.

Subsequent applicants in February and March 2022 have also been told to expect significant permitting review delays as a result of the earlier backlog.

The municipal government adds that over the past year, it streamlined its permitting process to create efficiencies, but the volume of permit applications overwhelmed its improvements.

At the end of last year, the City of Vancouver also reported a backlog of 500 new building applications for single-family, duplex, and laneway homes due in part to higher than usual volumes in 2021. Earlier this week, it announced 450 applications are now being processed, and the remaining 50 backlogged applications are back with their proponents for more information.

In recent years, the provincial government has been working with municipal governments across BC to improve the efficiency and speed of their licensing and permitting processes.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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