Builders are still uncertain of whether changes at the municipal hall will shorten building permit waits. (file photo)

Sooke claims win on building permit backlog

Developers are still only cautiously optimistic in the changes

In March, when a group of disgruntled land developers descended on Sooke council to vent their frustration over what they described as a broken system of getting building permits, they got little disagreement from Mayor Maja Tait.

“The whole process is a mess,” said Tait at the time.

The mayor said the problem developed over time, and together with acting chief administration officer Don Schaffer, she promised the system would be repaired and improved.

Her big promise? Permits would see a turnaround in 10 days, as opposed to the current six months.

RELATED: Mayor vows to fix building permit mess

That goal has been met, said Raechel Gray, the district’s deputy director of financial and corporate services

“We were able to get caught up through teamwork,” Gray said.

“Staff recognized the problem had gotten to an unacceptable level, worked together to streamline the review process, prioritized the work and ensured the applications we received were complete which allowed for a faster review.”

The question of complete applications is a sticking point for at least one developer.

Herb Haldane, who was instrumental in organizing the March meeting with the mayor, maintains part of the way municipal staff have cleared their backlog has been to shift the onus for work back to the developers.

“Now I have to go and find every single covenant attached to the subdivision (I’m working on) and make certain that they are included in the application. Every subdivision has covenants, and they have a record of those, but now I have to get someone to do it,” Haldane said.

“If they make it more onerous the chances of having a complete application go down and then any delay is my fault.”

Jeff Steele, of Stellar Homes, said there is a requirement to search out covenants affecting his applications, but said he has always done it that way and didn’t see it as an unusual situation.

“I can’t comment on how long it’s taking now. The last permit I took out took me more than three months, but that was before they committed to speeding things up. I applied for one today so I guess I’ll see in a couple of weeks how they’re doing,” Steele said.

The same wait-and-see attitude was on display when local developer Paul Clarkson was asked for his opinion of the success of the changes.

“I’ve yet to test the system, so I can’t say whether they’ve sharpened their pencils or not. Let’s hope so, but I’ll have to wait and see it with my own eyes.”

Gray said that part of the problem in processing permits was related to an influx of applications last December, before the B.C. Building Code changed.

“After the December influx of permits new permit applications have slowed down a bit which helped the staff catch up on the backlog,” she said.

Gray added that they are looking forward to the arrival of a new chief building official, who arrives in August and who “will provide valuable knowledge and experience and will help us further improve our permitting process.”



mailto:tim.collins@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

The number of permits received and issued from December to May are similar to prior years (average 160 permits issued/year) however the issues with our previous permit review process were compounded this year due to the fact that we had an influx of applications in December, 2018 before the BC Building Code changed which caused the backlog to grow to an unacceptable level.

Just Posted

Province funds $88.6M for two new schools in Langford by 2022

Langford gets 500-seat elementary school and a 700-seat middle school

Green New Deal meeting in Sooke part of a larger movement

Humanity has 4,000 days left before it will be too late

Premier opens playground

New Playground at École Poirier. John Horgan joined School Division 62 officials… Continue reading

Fish closure in Port Renfrew has endangered more than 40 per cent of businesses

YouTube video challenges residents to remember when election comes around

Council pursues water line extension for north Sooke

Properties affected by Highway 14 project may see water service

Oak Bay mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Jury to make recommendations based on death of Elliot Eurchuk, 16

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

EDITORIAL: Sooke council’s pot approach an opportunity lost

When the federal government tabled Bill 36 in September 2018, it threw… Continue reading

Green New Deal meeting in Sooke part of a larger movement

Humanity has 4,000 days left before it will be too late

Most Read