Vancouver has been bragging about the record number of building permits it has issued in the first six months of the year.
However, a change in the rules means that trend likely won’t continue.
New bylaws aimed at making homes more accessible and environmentally friendly mean permit approvals are now taking as much as eight times longer.
In Vancouver these days, builders can construct a laneway house faster than it takes to get the permit for construction.
“It used to be four to six weeks..that was typical…now its four to six even eight months to get a permit,” says Bryn Davidson of Lanefab Homes.
Its all been caused by a perfect storm of bureaucracy.
The city permits dept is relocating; the city is getting ready to implement its “Green” bylaw and permit applications have increased 46 per cent.
“If you know you are making this change, you should plan for it,” says Doug Langford of JDL Homes.
Other cities in Metro Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam, and New Westminster are also facing increased demand for permits, but their waits are less than two months.
“This is not Vancouver-centric. Surrounding cities have the same problem, but they are handling it better,” says Langford.
Lanefab Homes has had to shut down operations for the summer.
“This means we are going to have to shut down our operations for the summer because we can’t get permits,” says Davidson.
The City of Vancouver recognizes it has a big problem and says fixing it is a priority.
Councillors are hoping that increased staffing and introducing a new computer program will allow developers to get permits online will help streamline the process.
“My target is six weeks to get a permit and right now they are training more people,” says Vancouver city councillor Tony Tang.
— with files from Brian Coxford
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