On January 16, the BC Government announced the creation of a single hub for developers to obtain provincial government approval for housing projects to avoid multi-ministry contact to obtain permits for items such as water licenses, riparian approvals, road rezoning, heritage inspections, and contaminated site cleanup. This follows the announcement of a $500-million fund for non-profits to buy rental properties so they can add housing stock to the market. Most permits only require municipal government action, there are many permits that also need provincial government approval. Priority will be given to multi-family applications, Indigenous-led projects, and BC Housing applications, as well as projects in places deemed by the province and task force to be short of housing.
“We are pleased with this timely response to address the workforce housing crisis,” said Anita Huberman, President & CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. “Perhaps this could serve as a pathway to help further streamline permitting for commercial/business development permits.”
42 new full-time staff will be hired to identify the highest priority housing and will steer those through the process quickly and efficiently. Cooperation to expedite housing permit approvals through municipalities is needed.
New developments, especially in the Metro Vancouver area, but in all of BC, are severely delayed due to required environmental review assessment at the provincial level. This exacerbates the housing crisis as housing is not built to meet the demand of an expanding population. The Surrey Board of Trade issued a policy in 2020 to the BC Government asking for the environmental review process to be expedited with more staffing at the provincial level.
Many developers of both housing and commercial sites indicate that municipal governments are still taking too long to get back to them on preliminary drawings.
“The Surrey Board of Trade is pleased that the City of Surrey was recognized as a municipality with the most improvement in permitting times at the Council meeting on January 16.”
Anita Huberman, 604-634-0342, firstname.lastname@example.org