The Regional District of Nanaimo has experienced housing market growth during the last three years and that is expected to continue this year and beyond.
Manager of building and bylaw services, Tom Armet, stated in a report to the RDN Electoral Area Services Committee the increase in the level of building activity indicates a strong economy in the region.
Based on the building permit data collected, construction in the electoral areas were mainly residential.
Last year, the RDN received 857 building permit applications, similar to the 2017 figures but a 21 per cent increase over the total number in 2016. The value of the permits issued in 2018 is $130 million, which equates to a seven per cent increase over 2017 and a 41 per cent hike over 2016.
There was decline in non-residential permits, with only 23 issued valued at $3.8 million in 2018 compared to 41 permits valued at $8.7 million in 2017, and 39 permits valued at $4.6 million in 2016.
Electoral Areas E (Nanoose Bay), F (Coombs, Hilliers, Arrington), and G (Dashwood, Englishman River, French Creek) in the District 69 area experienced a small decline in the number of building permits issued with Area H (Shaw Hill, Deep Bay, Bowser) the only one that registered an increase to 84 in 2018 from 56 in 2017.
The RDN has been working on approving building permit applications in a more efficient and less time-consuming manner. Armet indicated approval times can vary depending on the project complexity and increased volumes of applications during the busiest period for construction activity.
In the first quarter of 2018, it took two to three weeks to approve permit applications but the turnaround increased to five to six weeks on average due to high volumes in the summer months. Permit approvals and inspection scheduling times in the RDN remain consistent with or lower than other regional districts and municipalities on Vancouver Island.
The RDN has incorporated a continuous improvement model to review its processes, incorporate technology and adjust service and staff levels accordingly.
Work continues on an initiative to implement a public portal in early 2019 for online building permit applications and inspection scheduling. It is designed to give the public the option to “self-serve” their requests from their home, office or mobile device.