Sooke’s building permit wait has been shortened to 35 days, but there’s still work to make the process easier for everyone, says Mayor Maja Tait.
A year ago, the backlog of building permit applications reached three months, despite a plan implemented in 2019 to reduce the time builders had to wait for permits.
Tait attributed the turnaround to hiring more staff and upgrading computer software. Additionally, the district hired a consultant to make suggestions for improving the system.
She said the new strategy would streamline the process by creating a single, coordinated approach to cut down the approval process further.
“Obviously, for some, it’s not fast enough, but I haven’t heard recently of hold-ups. It seems they’re making some headway now and getting through the big stack of paper,” Tait said.
As Sooke works on expediting the permit process, the B.C. government is creating a single hub for developers to get provincial approval for their projects in another step to tackle the housing shortage.
This week, Premier David Eby told a news conference that homebuilding authorizations in B.C. can require multiple provincial permit applications across separate ministries, each with different processes that can sometimes take up to two years for approval.
These permits may cover things like water licences, riparian approvals, road rezoning, heritage inspections and the cleanup of contaminated sites.
Eby said the new strategy would streamline the process by creating a single, coordinated approach to cut down approval processes to a few months.
Tait said the municipal process could be slowed while waiting for provincial approval.
“Any way to make things more efficient makes a lot of sense. More clarity with the processes will benefit everyone,” she said.
Many of Sooke’s approval processes were aggravated over the last three years due to growth, the pandemic and supply issues.
“We’re doing what we can to streamline the process. The capacity has been the biggest challenge with just not enough staff people,” Tait said.