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Permit Task Force maintains steady progress after one year

June 8 2022 –

Our Permitting Task Force has continued its progress towards reducing permit and licence wait times over the past year, despite a historic high number of new permit and licence applications that doubled between May 2021 and May 2022. 

Staff have addressed the application backlogs and are now processing more than 35% more applications across all permitting streams compared to May 2021 through a number of process improvements made over the past year. 

While steady progress has been made, there are still a number of areas to improve, including reducing the wait times for single family home, duplexes and laneway applications.

However, now that staff have processed the surge in permit and licence applications from 2021, homeowners, home builders, and businesses can expect wait times to continue to improve with faster turnarounds for applicants and will continue to report back on progress through the Task Force.

Latest Task Force improvements

  • Businesses can now expect to receive their business licence in as little as six weeks, compared to 16 weeks last year.
  • Homeowners and businesses can now expect to receive a permit for low-complexity renovations in as little as two weeks. 

“Over the past year we saw a surge in permit and licence applications, and despite this significant increase the process improvements we’ve made have allowed City staff to address the permit and licensing queue,” said Andrea Law, General Manager, Development, Buildings, and Licensing. “Now, homeowners, home builders and businesses can expect wait times to continue to improve with faster turnarounds for applicants.”

Key improvements over the past year

  • Commercial renovations are two weeks faster per application.
  • Applicants are contacted within two-three business days of their application.
  • Reduced requirements for many businesses changing a space or occupancy, with permits issued 8-16 weeks sooner.
  • Commercial spaces can be subdivided into multiple suites without expensive building improvements.
  • We have introduced the ability to pay online, check application status online, and download permits electronically.

Next steps

Over the next two years, staff will build on the many improvements made to date, and undertake an extensive review of the development permit process. 

Staff have been directed to assess the implications of guaranteed permitting timelines, including automatic approval or a fee waiver program, and report back to Council in 2023.

To continue making improvements, Council has extended removing extra conditions and reviews for one- and two-family homes in specific neighbourhoods for another 24 months.

Staff will also conduct a comprehensive review of the Protection of Trees By-law, following a 12-month pilot of its partial relaxation. The maximum tree size permitted for removal without a permit will revert back to 20 centimetres, and lessons learned from the pilot will inform the review.

A complete list of actions to streamline the permit and licensing process

Background

In a motion in spring 2021, City Council made improving wait times and clearing the application backlog a priority and established the City Manager’s task force with a dedicated $1 million dollars in funding.