The outcome of a review could bring changes to how the city issues building permits and speed up the process.
City staff gave a report at a council meeting Monday outlining a building permit function review, which starts this month.
“Through this we want to highlight how challenging the work is and I’m sure you’re all well aware of the volume of work that has been happening in that area,” said Jeremy Holm, director of development approvals, in his report to council.
Holm said the work of issuing building permits is continually evolving and is affected by external factors that include changes in legislation, building codes and qualifications of building officials, which staff must adjust to and train for to meet those requirements on top of the overall increasing volume of development in Nanaimo. Staff also adjust processes and procedures in the department regularly to meet to external influences that impact development approvals, which most recently include shifting the building permit approval process to online to meet COVID-19 protocols.
“Those shifts and changes are obviously challenging for our staff, as well as applicants, to adjust to at times and there can be impacts to efficiency and timeliness of permit application approvals,” Holm said.
He said depending on the volume of development applications and the complexity of the projects with revisions, reviews and other factors that can be involved, it takes about four to six months for approvals to be completed on large projects.
To determine how the building permit approval can be made more efficient and faster, the department has hired Nielsen Strategies Inc., which recently completed a similar review for another municipality, to assist in Nanaimo’s building permit function review.
The project will review the current city building permit process, compare Nanaimo’s approval process with other municipalities, include interviews with building industry representatives, business owners and homeowners who have applied for building permits and consult with various levels of city staff. The review is scheduled to be completed in January so it can be brought to a governance and priorities committee meeting.