May 26, 2024

Housing: B.C. government digitizing building permit process

Province also launching new “digital advisory council” with industry representatives and local governments including Kelowna, which has already been pioneering its own digital building permit system.

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The B.C. government is digitizing the building permitting process, moving away from paper-based applications in an effort to speed up housing production.

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon announced Tuesday that the provincial government is developing what it calls a “digital building permit tool,” in partnership with 15 local governments and a First Nations government. The digital system, which is expected to begin testing in March, will help “speed up the delivery of new homes,” Kahlon said in a statement.

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Besides speeding up the filing of building permit requests, the internet-based tool is to be designed to assess files to ensure plans meet the B.C. Building Code, the statement said.

Many jurisdictions in B.C. still rely on “a paper-based application process for new housing developments that leads to delays and slow approval times,” said the B.C. Housing Ministry’s statement.

“Once completed, the new digital building permit tool will make it faster and simpler for builders and developers to digitally submit building permits for new housing and for local governments to receive and process the application.”

The province has also created a digital advisory council to advise government on how B.C. can become a North American leader in digital permitting and construction, the statement said. The council will include representatives from local governments ands the construction, tech, architecture and engineering sectors.

Anne McMullin, president and CEO of the Urban Development Institute, said her real estate development industry association is on the council and is committed to working with the government on innovative solutions like this.

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“Digitizing the B.C. Building Code and building permit processing will help builders more
efficiently obtain approvals to deliver the homes and job spaces British Columbians need,” McMullin said in the statement.

The City of Kelowna, which has been pioneering its own digital permit system over the past year, is also participating in both the development of the province-wide tool and the new council. Kelowna Mayor Tom Dyas was quoted in Tuesday’s statement saying his city is “eager to share our learnings as well as learn what else can be done by working collaboratively across governments.”

The following are involved in the effort: The  Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Saanich, Burnaby, Campbell River, Coquitlam, Kamloops, Langley, Maple Ridge, Nanaimo, North Vancouver City, Surrey, Terrace, Victoria, Vancouver, Cowichan Valley Regional District, Qualicum Beach.

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