City staff say the current processing time for single-family building permits has dropped from 19 to 15 weeks since mid-December 2018.
And, staff predict they will hit the city’s goal of bringing it down to 10 weeks before the year is out.
Last December Surrey council adopted a new strategy aiming to reduce processing times for single-family building permits to eight to 12 weeks, which was a promise of Mayor Doug McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition during their election campaign.
“With the processing time goal of an average of 10 weeks staff have continued to implement the measures approved by Council, which included added staffing capacity, a triage system, and stream-lined drainage review and referrals,” according to a report to Surrey council on April 1.
These efforts have led to the reduction, the report states.
The document outlines other efforts that have been implemented, such as adding additional staff and extending work hours. The report states these new resources “have helped both in terms of developing process improvements as well as providing increased capacity to process applications and enquiries.”
In the last three months, staff report they have been able to process approximately 30 per cent more applications than they did over the same period last year.
“This has resulted in a decrease in the number of applications waiting to be processed despite the impact of the New Building Code (brought in last December) and Bill 52,” states the report. Bill 52 was introduced by the province and regulates the size of homes in the Agricultural Land Reserve, which Surrey staff say “contributed to a sudden increase in permit applications.”
Other improvements made so far in 2019, according to the report, include submitting some inspection results electronically to clients; the roll-out of online commercial plumbing permit applications; a standard template being created for arborist reports; and more.
The report states the city will also roll-out an online portal for digital single-family permit applications and processing, expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2019.
“I’m glad to see the reduction in time,” said Mayor McCallum during the April 1 meeting. “We heard it a lot during the campaign and I’m glad we’re headed in the right direction. I always put a but in – let’s keep going in the right direction. Let’s not let up on it so we can improve on this.”
The report to council also stated that staff would continue to improve the overall process for all types of building permits.