Committee aimed at smoothing wrinkles in city’s permit process

Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan has requested a committee be established to help the city's planning department provide a more streamlined service for developers.

Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan has asked for a committee to help the city’s planning department provide a more streamlined service for developers.

Already, planning staff have worked with a consultant on improving customer service to address the needs of developers, and staff have also met with members of the local industry over the last year to better understand what they need to be served efficiently.

Ruttan said the Development Process Review Committee will look at how applications are processed for development permits and variance permits.

“I did this because I wanted to make sure that the City of Nanaimo is doing all it can with the developers and builders in the community by providing as smooth a service as we can,” said Ruttan. “This isn’t to indicate or suggest there have been concerns or complaints from the building industry about service in the planning section or any part of the city’s services. This is more of a proactive thing to make sure that we’re doing all we can to improve the service we’re providing now. We want to make further improvements if we can and speed up the process.”

Ruttan and Couns. Jim Kipp, Loyd Sherry and Merv Unger will represent council on the committee while industry representatives will include Bob Wall of R.W. Wall Ltd., architect Ian Niamath, engineer Rod Smith, planning consultant Maureen Pilcher, and Greg Constable of Island West Coast Developments.

Some of the issues that will be explored include application requirements, establishment of milestone timelines, review of conflicting engineering standards and concurrent application processing.

The purpose of the committee will be to advise council on policy issues related to the development process, though it will not have authority to make decisions on individual applications except for how they apply to general policy issues.

Ted Swabey, general manager for community safety and development, said with a new zoning bylaw, the timing is right to re-evaluate how development applications are processed.