Frustrated British Columbians trying to obtain a building permit for new housing but restrained by red tape can breathe a sigh of relief.
The province announced a new streamlined building permit process Monday that it says will get shovels in the ground faster, as Premier David Eby’s government desperately tries to catch up with demand for housing.
B.C.’s new strategy will create a unified application and authorization process for obtaining a building permit, with approvals expedited by the Housing Action Task Force, a multi-ministry team dedicated solely to processing applications.
Currently, applications must be made to different ministries, including permits for riparian area approvals, water licenses, transportation approvals and heritage inspections.
Eby says the new approach will significantly speed up the process for property owners.
“Every British Columbian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. Unfortunately, this simply wasn’t a priority for more than a decade,” he said in a statement Monday. “As we turn things around and start to build record levels of housing, we are taking action today to remove obstacles to constructing new homes that families desperately need.”
The strategy is supported by an initial investment of 42 new full-time positions and will prioritize housing projects that are most urgently needed, such as Indigenous-led projects and multi-unit applications.
Priority will also be given to housing projects in municipalities that are subject to the speculation and vacancy tax.
The move comes after the number of permits issued for single-dwelling units in B.C. mostly dropped in 2022, according to government data.
That was also true on Vancouver Island, with data showing the region saw a 19.8 per cent decrease in the number of permits issued from January to November 2022 over the same period the year before.
The drop in total number of permits issued, which includes buildings used for commercial and industrial purposes, was similar on the Island, except in Nanaimo, which issued 60 per cent more permits year-over-year.
Residential Building Permits (Single dwelling units)
|Region||Jan-Nov 2021||Jan-Nov 2022||YoY % Change|
|Vancouver Island/Powell River||1,602||1,285||-19.8|
|Comox Valley RD||219||187||-14.6|
|Cowichan Valley RD||229||200||-12.7|
|Mount Waddington RD||14||11||-21.4|
Source: Government of B.C.