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Affordability & Choice Today

Streamlining Approvals

These projects deal with procedures, guidelines and training for the housing industry in general, such as computerized or fast-track systems.

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    A Plan to Regulate Residential Construction and Renovation

    There are two threats to the stability and management of Nova Scotia's residential construction industry, according to the Atlantic Home Building and Renovation Sector Council (AHBRSC). One is the underground economy, and the other is a growing shortage of skilled labour. The two issues are closely linked. In 2006, AHBRSC engaged a consultant to prepare a business plan for the creation of an industry body with the authority and administrative resources to operate a mandatory licensing system for the Nova Scotia residential construction and renovation industry.
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    Best Practice Manual for Harmonized Application Forms

    In the Capital Regional District (CRD) of British Columbia, 13 municipalities exercise separate jurisdiction over bylaws, processes and forms used in reviewing land use applications.  The District of Saanich, on behalf of the CRD municipalities, took a lead role in initiating a project to reduce the multiplicity of local government application forms and to harmonize development review procedures.
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    Business Plan For The Introduction Of A Mandatory Licensing System For The Residential Construction Industry in Nova Scotia

    There are two threats to the stability and management of Nova Scotia's residential construction industry, according to the Atlantic Home Building and Renovation Sector Council (AHBRSC). One is the underground economy, and the other is a growing shortage of skilled labour. The two issues are closely linked. In 2006, AHBRSC engaged a consultant to prepare a business plan for the creation of an industry body with the authority and administrative resources to operate a mandatory licensing system for the Nova Scotia residential construction and renovation industry.
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    Cedar Valley Approval Process Review

    This project helped District of Mission staff identify and implement measures to reduce the time and cost involved in the land use approvals process. For example, some of the improvements are on-line land use applications, use of electronic referrals for applications requiring acceptance by external agencies, and holding public information meetings before more formal public hearings.
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    Harmonization Development Approval Forms & Practices

    In the Capital Regional District (CRD) of British Columbia, 13 municipalities exercise separate jurisdiction over bylaws, processes and forms used in reviewing land use applications.  The District of Saanich, on behalf of the CRD municipalities, took a lead role in initiating a project to reduce the multiplicity of local government application forms and to harmonize development review procedures.
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    Builder Compliance Ratings Allow Performance-Based Fees

    Markham developed a system to measure and promote the performance of its building industry clients.  The system enabled the Town to fast-track permit approvals and lower fees for top-performing builders.
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    Client Performance Program

    Markham developed a system to measure and promote the performance of its building industry clients.  The system enabled the Town to fast-track permit approvals and lower fees for top-performing builders.
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    Cedar Valley Approval Process Review

    This project helped District of Mission staff identify and implement measures to reduce the time and cost involved in the land use approvals process. For example, some of the improvements are on-line land use applications, use of electronic referrals for applications requiring acceptance by external agencies, and holding public information meetings before more formal public hearings.
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    Development Process Information Seminars

    The goal of the seminars was to improve the working relationship between the construction industry and municipal staff. In turn, this would result in smoother and faster project approvals and improve the quality of construction.
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    Timmins Development Process Information Seminar Series

    The goal of the seminars was to improve the working relationship between the construction industry and municipal staff. In turn, this would result in smoother and faster project approvals and improve the quality of construction.
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    Issues, Impacts and Options in Building Inspection Systems

    AHB&RSC received an ACT grant to 1) conduct a situational analysis of Nova Scotia's building inspection system, and 2) identify areas that might be improved and result in lower housing costs, more timely approvals and inspections, improved housing quality, or housing innovations.
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    N.S. Home Builders Spearhead Regulatory Reform and EnviroHome Project (aka F.I.R.S.T. House for the Millennium)

    Builders in Halifax felt slow permit approval procedures added unnecessarily to their costs.  To help speed approvals, the municipality eliminated staff review of location certificates for lot grading, eliminsted municipal handling of provincial on-site septic applications and ceased responding to all zoning compliance letters, for which zoning violations were rare.  The Millennium House is an R-2000 EnviroHome with FlexHousing and Healthy Housing features, priced at $150,000 (1999).
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    Dial-in Bookings and Reports for Inspections

    The City of Abbotsford introduced an automated telephone system that enables builders to book multiple inspections and receive results 24/7. Reduced time for both municipality and builders.
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    "Bundled Process" Works for Developers

    The District of Lake Country designed a new fast-track approval process the municipality calls its "bundled process".  The process provides developers with certainty early on by imposing tight approval times for all steps in the process.  The optional process takes only 4 to 7 months from Official Community Plan (OCP) to building permit, compared to 20 to 30 months for the standard process.  Developers willing to pay higher fees can opt for this express lane.
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    Opportunities for Improving the Inspection Process

    In 1994, the City of Vancouver started an ambitious program to fundamentally change and improve its services.  Redesign of the planning and inspections process represented a central element of this program. The project produced benchmarking information of best practices and a proposed process for inspections.
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    Residential Development Manual Benefits Developers and Area Municipalities

    Amalgamation left the new Municipality of Leamington with two sets of bylaws and policy documents governing development. Leamington produced a new manual which lays out all the steps, specifications, servicing requirements, approvals (municipal and other) and agreements that must be followed or obtained before work can begin. Developers tell municipal staff that the new manual is saving them money and those savings get passed on to homebuyers. Other area municipalities have used the Leamington manual as a template.
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    Surrey's Use of Interactive Touch-Screen Technology to Expedite Client Requests for Building Permit and Development Process Information

    Kiosk users are able to obtain the information they need and go about their business in much less time than it used to take at teh counter, and employees have more time for other essential tasks, including faster permit application processing.
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    Joint Development Permits

    The project found that municipal staff, area developers and property owners were not generally aware that the City of Vancouver already had the power to permit joint upgrading of independently owned properties. Consequently, a draft brochure was produced detailing economic and technical gains to be made through a Joint Development Permit project.
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    A Project to Promote Implementation of the National Building Code and a Standardized Building Permit in Prince Edward Island

    The Home Builders' Association of PEI developed and delivered a series of presentations to encourage municipalities to adopt the National Building Code.
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    One-Stop Approval for Minor Residential Renovations

    Developed a series of technical guides to help homeowners prepare permit applications for small residential renovation projects and improve the approval process. Separate guides were created for different types of renovation projects, such as: converting basements to apartments; minor additions or interior renovations that would provide additional housing; and renovations that make the existing living space accessible to persons with disabilities.
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    Feasibility Study for a Heritage Renovation Assistance Service

    Evaluated the feasibility of developing a data bank that would assist renovators and municipal staff in applying the requirements of a provincial architectural law that ensures the architectural integration of new developments with the existing heritage designs.
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    How Cape Breton Regional Municipality Streamlined Residential Building Plans Approvals by Improving the Quality of Plans Submitted for Review

    Cape Breton Regional Municipality adopted a training program to teach home builders and their designers how to complete plans that are code correct. Graduates would be certified as "code-qualified" and plans submitted by them would require only a low-level review, meaning they could clear the system faster. For all practical purposes, their plans would arrive pre-approved.
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    How the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth Streamlined Its Development Approval Process

    The regional government eliminated bottlenecks, reduced duplication, fast tracked affordable housing and established a mediation process for municipalities within the region.
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    Streamlining Office-to-Residential Conversions

    The City wanted policies that would encourage office-to-residential conversions by reducing both the length of time for the approval process and the developer's cost.
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    The City of Yellowknife Development Approval Process Review and Streamlining

    A short construction season could force builders to work during the winter or to postpone jobs until the next building season.  As a result of a development approval process review and a coincidental amendment to its building bylaw, the City of Yellowknife implemented several reforms to its permit approval process.  First and foremost was the publication of six brochures that guide applicants through the approval process.  Four of these brochures relate to specific types of construction, while the other two are general guidelines to obtaining building permits and mechanical permits.
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    Coordinated and Standardized Development Processing Procedures

    The Regional Municipality of Halton streamlined the development approval procvess for the region's four area municipalities by consolidating the application form, standardizing procedures, fast-tracking affordable housing developments and preparing educational material for staff and the development industry.  Affordable housing projects are fast-tracked by flagging them on the computer tracking system and identifying them on the consolidated application form.  The project also improved communication and strengthened partnerships between local builders/developers, the Region, local municipalities and provincial agencies. 
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    Zoning Standards and Design Guidelines for Infill Housing and Redevelopment

    The project team recommended a new zoning classification with significant differences from the existing standards, to reflect the higher densities and smaller lot and building sizes in the historic areas. The project produced design guidelines on such issues as site layout, building form, architectural styles, materials and detailing, parking, amenity space and landscaping, and an outline clarifying the development approval process. Municipal staff and builders reported that the design guidelines have clarified and improved decisions. They also said the approval process has become much more efficient.
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    Streamlining the Approvals Process for Certified Residential Builders: Pilot Project

    CHBA-Chilliwack undertook a 2-year pilot project to test a Modified Approval Process as part of a Certified Residential Builder Program, and streamlined the approval process for those with a CRB designation. Reduced permit approval time from 6 weeks to days. Appendix C presents draft amendments to the bylaw.
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    Joint Property Development Permits

    The project found that municipal staff, area developers and property owners were not generally aware that the City of Vancouver already had the power to permit joint upgrading of independently owned properties. Consequently, a draft brochure was produced detailing economic and technical gains to be made through a Joint Development Permit project.
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    Guiding Applicants Through the Approval Process

    The City of Windsor developed a property description printout and a customized application checklist tailored to each applicant's needs. The new checklists significantly reduced disputes about the documentation applicants were asked to provide.
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    Single Permit Application Process

    The City developed a single permit process (for building; plumbing; gas; heating, ventilation and air conditioning; and electrical)) in consultation with the home building industry. The City achieved an 80% reduction in the number of separate applications required and considerably improved service turnaround. Builders are now able to have all permits in place before work begins, and tradespeople no longer have to apply for permits.
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    Calgary's Planning Education Program: Balancing Community & Industry Needs

    The City produced a video and workbook on the planning process, for use with residents and the building industry, in order to improve and expedite the approval process. The materials familiarize residents with the planning process and encourage the building industry to seek out and consider public input at the proposal stage.
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    Automated Permitting System

    Fredericton commissioned a study in 1992 to identify suitable options for an automated permitting system. The advantages of an automated system include more efficient and timely service for permit applicants; better management of zoning by-law amendments and development within the municipality; and an improved capacity to access and analyze information for policy and administrative decisions.
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    One-Stop Development Information and Applications Centre

    This project documented the City's experience in implementing innovations to streamline the building permit process
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    Code and Approval Process for Residential Renovation

    Recommended ways to address provisions of the 1995 National Building Code and municipal liability concerns and approval processes that discourage residential renovation.
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    City of Ottawa's "A BETTER WAY" Task Force

    The Task Force produced a comprehensive set of recommendations that address every aspect of the development approval system, from underlying principles to stakeholder roles and responsibilities.
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    Recognizing the Certified Residential Builder in the Approval Process

    The Canadian Home Builders Association of British Columbia (CHBA-BC) streamlined the approval process for those  with a Certified Residential Builder designation.
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    Standardized Subdivision Agreement

    The project developed a standardized subdivision agreement for the three townships.
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    Expert Systems: The Future of Plan Checking

    This project evaluated the benefits of a computer system for architects, designers, building inspectors and municipal planners to use in reviewing plans.
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    Pre-Permit Demolition - O'Bee's Steam bath

    Developed and implemented a pre-permit demolition approach to facilitate rehabilitation projects. The approach involves preparing construction drawings and performing selective demolition concurrently rather than sequentially.
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    Bringing Computers into the Permitting Process

    Strathcona County developed a computerized permit processing system and database, integrated with the existing tax roll and assessment database.  This eliminated much duplication of information and effort.
Page Updated: 21/12/2015