New B.C. building permit hub praised by former CHBA BC president – Journal Of Commerce

A push to digitize the permitting process in British Columbia meets the approval of a former president of the the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of British Columbia (CHBA BC).

Kelowna, B.C.– based 3rd Generation Homes president Cassidy deVeer is a homebuilder with direct experience of the building permit process and was part of the consultation that led to the release of the new Building Permit Hub tool.

“We’re hopeful that the new Building Permit Hub can streamline the process and shave off weeks of permitting time. This will make a huge difference for both the builder and the local government, allowing builders to get projects started quicker and ensure our crews are kept busy building and not sitting idle,” deVeer said.

Twelve local governments and two First Nations will pilot the first version of the Building Permit Hub. It went live at the end of May to allow communities to update the tool for their local requirements and permitting capability is expected to come online this summer, a release said.

The hub will be further developed over the summer with the addition of more features such as permit applications for secondary suites and accessory dwelling units and will eventually be available throughout the province.

Currently the permitting process can be slow and cumbersome with no standard waiting time from one jurisdiction to another, deVeer said.

“It can take up to 15 months to get a building permit in some jurisdictions, while others process them in two weeks. This hub will ensure applications are complete prior to submission as well as clarify to builders and homeowners what a complete application is,” she said.

“in many areas of the province, the process involved printing off documents and driving down to city hall to have those documents then be scanned and uploaded. This is definitely not the most efficient way of kicking off a homebuilding project.”

Other stumbling blocks included inconsistent submission requirements from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and different requirements depending on the area, which she said was frustrating for CHBA BC members working in multiple jurisdictions.

CHBA BC was involved in the consultation process for the hub, she said, and represented homebuilders through the provincial government’s Digital Advisory Council, working groups and user research sessions.

“What I heard from many local governments is they wanted to be better but had no time to take on additional projects. I was also shocked to find out that there was no best practice guide for the permitting process and that municipalities don’t have peer groups with which they can share this information or at least none that these participants were aware of,” she said.

“Together, we’ve made progress cutting provincial and municipal permitting times, but we have to keep going. This new one-stop shop for local building permits will reduce red tape for homebuilders, local governments and First Nations, and ultimately save money, speed up construction and help people get into homes faster,” B.C. Premier David Eby said when he announced the new hub.

DeVeer said as the hub is implemented she’s hopeful potential bottlenecks can be addressed.

“During the development of the Building Permit Hub, we heard the B.C. government found there were grey areas within the building code which resulted in building inspectors having to make judgment calls out in the field, leading to inconsistencies around the province,” she said. “As the hub progresses and digitization progresses, we are hopeful that this will improve the processes for everyone involved in building a home. This will allow municipalities to free up staff time for other uses.”

“B.C. homebuilders are optimistic about the introduction of digital permitting and are looking forward to seeing it rolled out across the province. We’ll be watching closely and getting feedback from our members over the coming months, which we’ll provide to the B.C. government to help improve the digital permitting system as it expands across B.C.,” deVeer said.

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