Premier & housing minister announce new Building Permit Hub – Island Social Trends

building permit hub
BC Building Permit Hub launched a beta version on May 17, 2024.

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Wednesday May 29, 2024 | VICTORIA, BC

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends


Making the announcement from Burnaby, Premier David Eby and Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon officially launched the new BC Building Permit Hub.

The goal of the online platform is to speed up home-building and get more homes built faster.

premier, david eby
Premier David Eby announcing new building permit online portal in Burnaby on May 27, 2024. [livestream]

The new digital Building Permit Hub will help streamline and standardize local permitting processes.

Election timeframe:

It comes with about four-and-a-half until the next provincial election (scheduled for October 19, 2024).

The suite of housing legislation that the BC NDP majority government has brought forward in the past 18 months will no doubt be a key part of the BC NDP election platform but also a target for the parties that have found fault with various aspects of the housing changes (including BC BC United, BC Greens, and BC Conservatives).

Frequent criticisms have to do with allowing up to four homes on a single family lot (in some cases six), and a perceived removal of municipal council input on zoning decisions.

Speeding up permitting:

“The permitting process can be slow and complicated, delaying the construction of homes we urgently need,” said Premier David Eby.

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“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,” the premier said.

Monday’s news release about the new digital portal said that it will contribute to reducing “the costs of housing” though there is no evidence that housing prices ever go down, only up.

ravi kahlon, housing, permits
Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon announcing new building permit online portal in Burnaby on May 27, 2024. [livestream]

Through the new provincial Single Housing Application Service, homebuilders also have access to a single window for provincial applications and new dedicated navigators, who guide applicants through all stages of the application process and act as a single point of contact for all decisions relating to provincial homebuilding permits.

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said during media questions on Monday that there has been “confusion with red tape”. The hub was announced last fall, he reminded, and is now available online: BC Building Permit Hub (Beta version).

He said on Monday that permits for four units or less will be prioritized. Unique requirements for each community will be accommodated, he pointed out.

Already the provincial permits are being processed faster and backlogs are being cleared with permits being processed faster than they are coming in, it was stated by the Housing Ministry on Monday.

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Streamlining the process:

The Province has heard from industry, local governments and First Nations that some of the biggest challenges with the local building-permit submission process are incomplete applications, inconsistent submission requirements from one community to another and different interpretations of compliance with BC Building Code requirements. These problems contribute to costly delays to building new homes for people.

building permit hub, beta
BC Building Permit Hub launched a beta version on May 17, 2024.

The Building Permit Hub will address these challenges by offering a one-stop, simplified process, resulting in faster processing and review times. Builders will submit their permit applications online in the hub, which will:

  • standardize building-permit submission requirements across jurisdictions in B.C.;
  • automatically check that the permit application is complete; and
  • automatically check compliance with key parts of the BC Building Code.

Each community recognized:

A province-wide system that addresses the different permit requirements in each community will result in complete and consistent applications that are straightforward for local governments and First Nations to approve.

The Province worked closely with communities and industry experts to develop the Hub.

Quoted in the news release: “This permitting tool will evolve, incorporating user feedback to deliver a seamless experience for those building the homes people need throughout the province,” said George Chow, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “Government is working to unlock the full potential of digital innovation and technology, as we tackle the housing crisis together.”

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14 pilot projects:

Twelve local governments and two First Nations will pilot the first version of the Building Permit Hub starting May 27, 2024.

Many Phase 1 pilot communities are still updating the tool for their local requirements and most are expected to come online by August.

Phase 1 participants:

  • Cities: Burnaby, Campbell River, Kamloops, Langley, Maple Ridge, Nanaimo, North Vancouver, Surrey, Victoria.
  • Districts and towns: Cowichan Valley Regional District, District of Saanich, Town of Qualicum Beach.
  • First Nations: Musqueam Indian Band and Tsleil-Waututh Nation.

Scaling up:

The hub will be further developed in summer with additional features added, such as permit applications for secondary suites and accessory dwelling units, and will eventually be available throughout the province, allowing every community to process building permits digitally.

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The Building Permit Hub will scale up to include more types of housing. Advancing digital permitting and construction is part of the Province’s Homes for People action plan to build homes for people faster, protect renters and fight speculation. The Province is investing in other digital housing solutions as well and has already delivered a web-based, interactive version of the building code.

$19 billion housing investment:

The Building Permit Hub is part of a $19-billion housing investment by the B.C. government. Since 2017, the Province has nearly 78,000 homes that have been delivered or are underway.

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LOCAL JOURNALISM INFORMS — we bring you local news about your community. Island Social Trends reports news with socioeconomic insights and analysis. Independent news service on south Vancouver Island, BC. Read free online or get the biweekly PDF by email.

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NEWS SECTIONS: HOUSING | BC ELECTION 2024

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