Vancouver to fast track home building by new development permit pilot

THE City of Vancouver is launching a new fast lane pilot program for experienced homebuilder teams to significantly reduce permit processing times from 28 to 38 weeks to six to eight weeks.

The Applicant Supported and Assisted Process (ASAP) pilot is designed to expedite single family homes and laneway homes, as part of the Housing Vancouver goal to create 10,000 new ground level homes over the next 10 years. The first phase of the pilot will include 20-30 projects to test new ideas which could then be scaled into the regular permitting process, if they prove successful. Vancouver has seen unprecedented levels of development over the past five years. Last year the City issued over 1,300 Development and Building Permits for new homes and laneway homes.

“This pilot is one of several new measures implemented by the City to speed up the delivery of new housing, and streamline planning and development processes,” says Kaye Krishna, General Manager, Development, Buildings and Licencing. “This includes piloting new ideas, a system wide review of our policies and processes, and adding more staff across our departments to better meet demand.”

To achieve this significant reduction in permit times, several steps in the regular process will be streamlined to maximize efficiency. These pilot changes include running aspects of the application in parallel, requiring certain information at the start of the process instead of mid-stream, and issuing permits at the same time where applicable.

Reductions in the pilot permit processing times will also be achieved by working with experienced designers and builders.

“The Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association is fully supportive of the City of Vancouver’s ASAP permitting pilot project. We have been working with City staff for several years on this project, and are very pleased to see it reach the piloting stage,” says Bob de Wit, CEO of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association. “The GVHBA will continue to work closely with the City of Vancouver and other local governments to improve the residential permitting process, to the benefit of homeowners, industry and municipalities.”

A limited number of designers and homebuilders are being invited to participate in this initial pilot. These businesses have consistently produced complete, high quality permit applications in the past, and are knowledgeable about the permitting process.

ASAP participants will be required to meet certain criteria beyond the regular process as part of their participation. This includes a mandatory pre-application review, providing more detailed information about each application up front, ensuring the same business contact is available from application start to finish, and committing to certain turnaround times for each step of the process.

The City claims that its dedicated efforts to transform planning and development processes have already improved response times in many key areas, such as affordable housing and single family housing. Significant improvements for 2018 include:

  • 50% reduction in development permit timelines as part of an affordable housing pilot – with initial approval now under 13 weeks
  • Expedited joint approval of temporary modular housing for development and building permits in eight weeks
  • 80% reduction in times for landscape reviews for single family homes
  • 30% reduction in wait times at the Development and Building Services Centre
  • Over 250 small businesses served over the past year at the Commercial Renovation Centre, with average permit times under 4 weeks