The District of Sicamous wants to expedite the turnaround time for building permit approvals.
At the May 25 meeting of the district’s planning and development committee, development services manager Scott Beeching said the district has received 39 building permit applications this year. He explained that, on average, issuance of a permit is taking between 21 and 24 days.
“If this committee wants to challenge us to a time frame of returning a building permit, we’ll see if we can meet that,” said Beeching.
Asked what he thought would be acceptable, Beeching suggested two weeks, provided the application includes everything that is required. He proceed to list numerous things staff look for when processing an application.
“I look for truss drawings, a foundation drawing, a site plan that shows all the setbacks – and sometimes those aren’t there so I’m asking for those things,” said Beeching. “Once those things are there it goes onto the building inspector.”
Beeching said the district is also looking to hire a building official or building official in training.
“We’re probably going to be doing interviews in the next couple of weeks,” said Beeching.
Town manager Evan Parliament noted delays around building permits are something municipalities throughout the country struggle with.
“This issue plagues every municipality…, what is considered the red tape, the bureaucratic process,” said Parliament. “Staff are not trying to stall any permits. I’ve said this since I’ve been here. When an application comes in incomplete, it puts staff at a disadvantage, and the best way and the best method I’ve seen over the years is to invite builders, or invite people new to the development business, to have a pre-application meeting with staff.”
Parliament said people can also look for input at a planning and development committee meeting.
The conversation around building permits was picked up again in the afternoon at the May 25 council meeting. Coun. Gord Bushell asked if the district could have a system that might speed up applications for longtime local developers who might be doing something small like a deck
“I thought it should be something we should try to do…” said Bushell.
At the planning meeting, Beeching said every one who applies for a building permit is treated the same.
Regarding the turnaround period, Coun. Jeff Mallmes was impressed staff can do it in 21 days.
“I think in comparison to other communities, 21 days is excellent,” said Mallmes. “If we get it to 14 days, we should put that on the sign out front, “Come here and get a permit in 14 days – if you’ve got everything.”
Beeching also noted the district has launched a web portal on its website through which people can apply for a building permit.
“It’s all about making our service better for developers coming into the community and we’ve made huge steps since the seven years that I’ve been here,” said Bushell.
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