Permit Process Improving, with More Changes to Come

October 17, 2017 (Vancouver, BC) Today Vancouver City Council heard an update from staff on efforts to improve the development permit process. While the City is seeing a record level of new development, changes made in the last year are resulting in an improvement in processing times, with further measures such as time limits and customer response time requirements being implemented this fall.

Already this year, the soft launch of a pilot project to prioritize affordable housing projects has reduced initial project times by 16 weeks. Changes made in the landscape approval process have reduced permit times for low density housing by 43%, from 35 weeks down to 20 weeks.

Single-story laneway homes are now seeing permits expedited with many issued within one week.

“Delays to get basic permits are frustrating, and not acceptable. A swift and simple permitting process at the City is critical for addressing Vancouver’s housing challenges and to help facilitate housing delivery of all kinds across the City,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The City has struggled for years to keep up with permit processing volumes and we’re finally making inroads. Staff have made significant changes to improve processing times and reduce red tape -  we’re already seeing better results and there are more changes on the way.”

To continue reducing the time it takes to get a permit, the City is establishing:

  • a single point of contact to all projects
  • service-level agreements and committing to specific customer return times for permits for affordable housing and low-density housing projects, to ensure projects move forward in a timely way;
  • setting time limits and separated queues to reduce lineups for permit applicants.

Development volumes remain high in the City of Vancouver and staff are preparing to bring forward in the 2018 budget increased resources to hire more staff to help continue to reduce permit times. Since 2008, permit driven work volumes have increase an average of 24% while development related staff only increased 6%.

The City is expected to surpass last year's development and building permit applications of 8,300. Trades permit volumes are on pace to be the highest on record this year.