A construction work looks at a building

Residents and Businesses now obtaining permits faster and easier

Permits for home renovations issued 50% faster compared to 2023

July 9 2024 –

Innovative digital solutions and streamlined regulations have significantly improved permitting times in Vancouver, particularly for renovations and new low-density housing, significantly advancing progress toward the City’s 3-3-3-1 permit processing time targets.  

“We’re excited to see the real impact our efforts are having on Vancouver’s permitting process,” said Mayor Ken Sim. “These changes show our dedication to making things easier for our residents and businesses. By cutting red tape and speeding up approvals, we’re creating an environment where everyone in Vancouver can grow and thrive.” 

Notable progress

In a report (435 KB) presented to Council today, City staff provided an update on progress made to improve permitting timelines. This includes*

  • Home renovations: 50 percent faster median processing time, currently 23 days compared to 44 days in 2023.
  • 63 percent of all home renovation permits are processed in 3 days, through the Residential Renovation Fast Track permit stream.
  • New detached and duplex homes: 25 percent faster median processing time, currently 33 weeks compared to 43 weeks in 2023.
  • Laneway Homes: 60 per cent faster, currently 13 weeks compared to 32 weeks in 2023.

*based on medians

Supporting businesses

The City also made significant improvements to support businesses, including:

  • Issuing commercial renovation permits 45 percent faster. Median processing time is currently 32 days compared to 56 days in 2022.
  • Decreasing wait times for business license applications to be assigned for staff review by 50 per cent. Despite high application volumes, the median wait period is three weeks compared to six weeks in 2023.
  • Reducing business licensing categories by 83 per cent, from more than 500 to fewer than 100, minimizing the need for businesses to obtain multiple similar licenses. 

“Guided by our commitment to transparency, predictability, accuracy, consistency and timeliness, we are transforming the permitting process to better serve our community,” said Corrie Okell, General Manager of Development, Building and Licensing. “Our goal is to ensure that the permitting process is not a barrier but facilitates development in Vancouver.”  

New digital innovations and simplified processes

These significant improvements are driven by the implementation of new, advanced technologies and consistent actions to modernize processes. Key actions include:

  • Introducing PRET (Project Requirements Exploration Tool) for laneway homes, an advanced online platform allowing applicants to explore and understand all project requirements for their property before starting their project.
  • Expanding the scope of the Fast Track Home Renovation stream to include 63 percent of applications, so more projects are eligible for a permit, faster.
  • Eliminating sprinkler permit requirements for simple repairs and replacements and providing a 24-hour fast track for 90 per cent of sprinkler permits. Since this program launched in January 2024, 730 sprinkler permits have been issued via the 24-hour fast track.

Next steps

Building on these successes, the City is committed continuing to make all permitting streams simpler and more efficient, and to extend permit application improvements to mid-rise and high-rise projects. Next steps include:

  • Piloting eComply, a new digital tool that enables applicants to upload digital plans and review instantly for compliance with regulations.   
  • Expanding PRET for multiplexes permit applications to support better understanding of regulations and delivery of missing middle housing.   
  • Proposed updates to mechanical equipment space on rooftops, acoustic reports, and angle of daylight requirements to make it easier for larger-scale projects and enable faster delivery of more diverse housing types. Council will be considering these changes in the coming months.

For more information on Vancouver's permitting process improvements, please visit: https://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/permitting-improvement-program.aspx

Additional materials