Builders are still uncertain of whether changes at the municipal hall will shorten building permit waits. (file photo)

Builders are still uncertain of whether changes at the municipal hall will shorten building permit waits. (file photo)

Sooke claims win on building permit backlog

Developers are still only cautiously optimistic in the changes

In March, when a group of disgruntled land developers descended on Sooke council to vent their frustration over what they described as a broken system of getting building permits, they got little disagreement from Mayor Maja Tait.

“The whole process is a mess,” said Tait at the time.

The mayor said the problem developed over time, and together with acting chief administration officer Don Schaffer, she promised the system would be repaired and improved.

Her big promise? Permits would see a turnaround in 10 days, as opposed to the current six months.

RELATED: Mayor vows to fix building permit mess

That goal has been met, said Raechel Gray, the district’s deputy director of financial and corporate services

“We were able to get caught up through teamwork,” Gray said.

“Staff recognized the problem had gotten to an unacceptable level, worked together to streamline the review process, prioritized the work and ensured the applications we received were complete which allowed for a faster review.”

The question of complete applications is a sticking point for at least one developer.

Herb Haldane, who was instrumental in organizing the March meeting with the mayor, maintains part of the way municipal staff have cleared their backlog has been to shift the onus for work back to the developers.

“Now I have to go and find every single covenant attached to the subdivision (I’m working on) and make certain that they are included in the application. Every subdivision has covenants, and they have a record of those, but now I have to get someone to do it,” Haldane said.

“If they make it more onerous the chances of having a complete application go down and then any delay is my fault.”

Jeff Steele, of Stellar Homes, said there is a requirement to search out covenants affecting his applications, but said he has always done it that way and didn’t see it as an unusual situation.

“I can’t comment on how long it’s taking now. The last permit I took out took me more than three months, but that was before they committed to speeding things up. I applied for one today so I guess I’ll see in a couple of weeks how they’re doing,” Steele said.

The same wait-and-see attitude was on display when local developer Paul Clarkson was asked for his opinion of the success of the changes.

“I’ve yet to test the system, so I can’t say whether they’ve sharpened their pencils or not. Let’s hope so, but I’ll have to wait and see it with my own eyes.”

Gray said that part of the problem in processing permits was related to an influx of applications last December, before the B.C. Building Code changed.

“After the December influx of permits new permit applications have slowed down a bit which helped the staff catch up on the backlog,” she said.

Gray added that they are looking forward to the arrival of a new chief building official, who arrives in August and who “will provide valuable knowledge and experience and will help us further improve our permitting process.”



mailto:tim.collins@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

The number of permits received and issued from December to May are similar to prior years (average 160 permits issued/year) however the issues with our previous permit review process were compounded this year due to the fact that we had an influx of applications in December, 2018 before the BC Building Code changed which caused the backlog to grow to an unacceptable level.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A project on McCallum Road will add 227 residential units to Langford. (Photo courtesy of Highstreet Ventures)
Residential project slated for McCallum Road in Langford

Six-storey development will be built to highest energy-efficiency standards

Swiftsure International Yacht Race 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Popular Swiftsure yacht race cancelled for second consecutive year

International sailing race hopes to run its 77th event in 2022

The public will start to weigh in next month on the possible future uses of Oak Bay Lodge. In the meantime, a request to the province by the City of Victoria to intervene and allow use of at least a portion of the closed facility as temporary shelter space awaits an answer. (Black Press Media file photo)
Oak Bay Lodge redevelopment planning continues, request for temporary use awaits answer

Public consultation on future of CRD-owned site begins next month

A rendering of Victoria Wonderland, a drive-thru immersive holiday experience that has been cancelled due to COVID-19. (Courtesy of Transcend Victoria)
Victoria Wonderland drive-thru show cancelled due to COVID-19

Organizers hope to host a similar event, if restrictions allow, in the new year

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

(AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)
POLL: Has COVID-19 changed your plans for the holidays?

The lights are going up, the stacks of presents under the tree… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 1

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Lake Trail Middle School in Courtenay has closed again due to a threat Friday (Dec 4). File photo
Island middle school closed for the second time in a week due to threat

On Nov. 26, Lake Trail Middle School was closed for a day while a similar incident occurred.

Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson and Charlie are trying to raise money for a homeless shelter that will allow pets and are seen in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

Parachutes for Pets says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week t

Melissa Velden and her chef-husband Chris Velden, stand in their dining room at the Flying Apron Inn and Cookery in Summerville, N.S. on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. The couple is hosting holiday parties with appropriate distancing and other COVID-19 health protocols in place at their restaurant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Celebrities, Santa and Zoom part of office holiday parties being held amid COVID-19

Many will send tokens of appreciation to workers or offer time off or cash

Watch Messiah at home with the Sooke Philharmonic

Concert available to stream Dec. 12

Emergency crews used a backhoe loader to clear fire debris from the scene of a fire on Wesley Street Thursday as police and firefighters gathered up propane tanks, stoves and fireplaces used by camp residents to heat tents. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
City of Nanaimo dismantles downtown homeless encampment after fire

Four to six tents burned up in Wesley Street fire Thursday, Dec. 3

Most Read