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B.C. to Streamline Housing Development Application Processes

Streamline Housing Development

The government of British Columbia has stated their intention to simplify housing development permits procedures in an effort to speed up approvals and construction, ultimately resulting in more houses being built around the province.

With the new Permitting Strategy for Housing, the province claims it will “establish a single, coordinated approach to housing-related permits and approvals,” meaning that applicants will no longer have to fill out separate forms for each ministry.

An interdepartmental team whose main responsibility is house permit processing will work to speed up the process while the single application window is being set up over the next several months, according to a government of British Columbia press release.

The government warns that getting the necessary permits to construct a house in British Columbia may involve submitting paperwork to many different departments, each of which may have its own procedures.

The plan would provide “first billing” to the “most urgently needed” housing, which may include Indigenous-led initiatives. Authorizations and permissions will be prioritised for cities and towns that have the most severe housing supply shortages and the fewest available units.

In all, 42 people will be engaged to facilitate the projects’ approval processes.

The province estimates that there are 20,000 pending permits, with just roughly 1,000 being housing-related. It will take some time, but Premier David Eby says his administration is striving to shorten the process from a few years to a few months.

Due of the urgency of the housing crisis, “we are speeding permits via the present system while also reforming it,” Eby said.

Nathan Cullen, the province’s minister of water, land, and resource stewardship, will be in charge of the new permission system.

For both landlords and tenants in the market for a new house in British Columbia, “the time,” which translates to “the money,” is of the essence. We need to accomplish both at the same time, therefore we’ve established an interdepartmental task group to consolidate the many permissions required.

Minister Cullen is “addressing the backlog we have today, working on the system that we have now, but also working with our ministry to reimagine what that system may look like,” said Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon.

Experts question outcome:

The chairman of the Urban Development Institute, John Stovell, thinks it’s an excellent concept but is wary about its implementation.

The goal of getting the province out of the way to speed up the construction of new homes is commendable. However, we are worried about how this will play out in practise,” Stovell added.

Stovell claims that he is not persuaded that hiring additional employees would resolve the issue of applications being delayed due to difficulties.

“An application will be stalled not simply because of processing, but because of some conflict between various regulations within one ministry, or many ministries, or because of an overreach on the law, or because of a lack of uniform interpretation,” he said.

Possible unfavourable outcomes include adding more individuals to the chain of command, which might slow down the process rather than speed it up.

According to Tsur Somerville of UBC’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate, many of the permits holdups occur at the municipal level rather than the provincial one, and this statement does not address that.

Since it’s just one state, it won’t apply to places where permits are required. Where exactly are all of the issues with cost-effectiveness? “In jurisdictions where permits are required,” Somerville wrote.

At the municipal level, where town planning is governed, “at least 90% of the issue” exists. Stovell said, “and the province has done all they can here or, we think, with their own legislation.

Somerville, though, suggests that the provincial government may do well to serve as an example for local governments by moving permission processes along more quickly.

On its own, it won’t make much of an impact. But I believe that’s a pretty significant policy statement to make, and I think it makes it easier for the province to holler at the municipalities because “hey, we’ve done it, why can’t you do it?” It was Somerville who provided the background.

The things we need to worry about in terms of safety and effect are being handled, and I believe anything that simplifies the permitting process is a good thing. Somerville emphasised the need of “having that attitude,” which entails actively seeking out ways to overcome obstacles rather than just accepting them as inevitable.

According to Stovell, the province’s ability to implement the adjustment will depend on the finer points.

Details are where the devil is. If the province adopts the single-approval-process model, would the approval process for new homes be streamlined and delays alleviated? According to Stovell.

Since taking office last year, Eby has unveiled a number of policies pertaining to the housing market.

I believe that every person in the province of British Columbia has the right to live in a secure and reasonably priced home. Eby said on Monday, “Unfortunately, this just wasn’t a priority for more than a decade. We are taking action today to eliminate hurdles to building new houses that people sorely need as we begin to turn things around and begin to create record levels of housing.

Meanwhile, Kahlon insists that the NDP administration’s primary objective is improving the housing market.

With the help of local governments, we’re speeding up the construction of new homes. But we also know that, as a province, we can do better in terms of how quickly we issue permits. This new permitting approach is an important step in providing the homes people need,” he said.


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