RDN to expand delegation authority for development permits

New bylaw to reduce processing times and allow developers to start and finish projects on time

Applying for development permits can be a lengthy process that could cost residents and builders time and money.

It could also be very frustrating to developers when it’s not dealt with in a timely manner.

The Regional District of Nanaimo is hoping to make the development application process a lot more efficient and convenient to developers.

At present, development projects that require the most technical permits are dealt with and issued permits at board meetings, which are held once a month. This can lead to significant delays in the construction process and have financial implications.

Helen MacPhail Sims, of Sims Associate BC Land Surveyor, appeared as a delegation at the Electoral Areas Services Committee meeting on Tuesday night and expressed her support to a proposed bylaw that will help accelerate the application process.

The construction industry, she said, has become more complex and there are no easy lots or subdivisions to develop. They all require permits that are at times very technical in nature.

“The development community has only ten opportunities per year to have their technical applications forwarded to this committee and the board,” said Sims, who cited as an example a development application her firm made to the RDN that the EASC dealt with the same night. It involves construction of a wastewater system to serve an existing dwelling unit on Lasqueti Road in Electoral Area H.

“In this process, the committee and the board do not have any discretionary approval power because this is a very technical development permit,” said Sims. “We’ve send the application towards the end April and it will take until the end of June to be approved — if it is approved — because we have to wait for the committee and board meetings.”

Jeremy Holm, RDN manager of current planning, has recommended a new bylaw that will expand the delegation authority for development permits. He said it provides multiple benefits that include reduced processing timelines and faster issuance of DPs. It will assist property owners and contractors in starting and finishing projects in a reasonable period of time, especially when there are construction window constraints like weather, nesting and fisheries.

“This delegation bylaw will speed up that process,” said Sims, who urged the committee to endorse the bylaw. “It will help with the bottlenecks of getting these technical development permits approved.”

Holm added that builders and consultants who work in the RDN are strongly supportive of the proposed bylaw, which is common practice in the majority of local governments on Vancouver Island. It will make the development permit process for properties in the RDN Electoral Areas faster and more consistent with other jurisdictions.

The committee voted to recommend the board give three readings and adopt the delegation of authority bylaw.

See full story at www.pqbnews.com.