The District of Sooke plans to shorten the time between residential and commercial building permit applications and approvals.
Currently, it takes an average of 43 days for planners to approve plans for new construction of houses and apartments. Property developers, however, report wait times of up to three months.
Work cannot begin until several city departments have signed permits, and this practice is far too cumbersome and prone to delays, developers say.
“It seems like every department at Sooke is interested in building apps whether they need them or not. It doesn’t happen in other municipalities,” said Herb Haldane, a developer and former district councillor, adding that the process is “much easier” in Langford.
The district’s three building inspectors conducted 2,018 inspections in 2021. This represents a 14% increase from 2020, which saw a 22% increase from the previous year.
On Monday, Feb. 14, Council approved a staff request to hire another building inspector and provide office support, using money from 2021 surplus funds. Additionally, the district recently received a grant from $494,270 to help revamp the existing system, from the first point of contact with a customer, to updating software and other resources over the next two years.
District staff will also review building by-law protocols that could delay building permit approvals, said district administrative manager Norm McInnis.
“We are absolutely committed to working with people throughout this process. There is a fairly complex process to get an application and get it approved.
One of the most common complaints councilors hear from constituents is about delays in building permits.
“I have been drowning in this since November to such an extent that it is causing serious personal stress. I got a lot of phone calls and a lot of anger,” said Mayor Maja Tait, adding that she had recently inquired with City Hall about obtaining planning permission to build a suite in her home and that was told it would take 12 weeks.
When the current council was elected in October 2018, the council. Al Beddows said improving the building permit process was a top priority.
“There has been progress, but I don’t think we’re there yet,” he said.
developmentMunicipal GovernmentSookeWest Shore