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Pilot program to cut building permit times for Vancouver houses shows promise

By Liam Britten for CBC News

A pilot program to cut down the time to process building permits for single-family homes has yielded promising results, the City of Vancouver says.

Builders and developers in the city’s Applicant Supported and Assisted Process (ASAP) pilot program have completed permits to build a single-family home within 4.6 weeks, on average, of applying.

That’s according to Kaye Krishna, the city’s general manager of development, building and licensing, who said the average wait time for applications outside the program is about 25 weeks.

“Everything that we’re doing, we’re trying to increase the supply of housing for all Vancouverites,” Krishna said. “Faster permitting is the way to help enable that.”

The ASAP pilot program invited experienced home builders and developers to enter a streamlined permit process. The goal was to have permits issued within 10 weeks.

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Krishna said the program has been so successful so far that city staff may begin applying its lessons to mainstream permit applications before the one-year pilot officially ends.
Larry Clay, president of Clay Construction, is pleased with the program so far.

He said he is used to waiting eight to 12 months for permits but has put three projects through ASAP in about 12 weeks each.

“It’s affordability for homeowners, and secondly it’s really difficult to run a small business when you are waiting so long,” Clay said. “I know builders and designers who have said, ‘we are not going to work in the City of Vancouver any more.’ We are trying to … fix this problem.”

He said the results from ASAP have been “a huge improvement” and he’s hopeful it can be scaled up and involve more developers.

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