Rachelle Stein-Wotten

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder

A total of 69 building permits have been issued on Gabriola so far this year.

Through the end of the third quarter, the RDN has issued 421 permits across all electoral areas, including 69 in Electoral Area B.

The staff report received at the November electoral area services committee meeting shows the RDN has received more permit applications this year compared to 2020, but fewer than in 2018 and 2019. But so far this year, the RDN has issued fewer building permits compared to this same time in each of the previous three years.

Just in the third quarter this year, 18 permits were issued in Area B compared to 32 last year, 27 in 2019 and 14 in 2018.

The average wait time for a building permit has remained steady around 16 weeks, staff reported to the committee. The RDN has been approved for a provincial grant delivered via the Union of BC Municipalities meant to help local governments implement best practices and test approaches to improve development approvals processes. That work will begin next year and would likely involve making substantial changes, Doug Holmes, RDN CAO, told the committee.

“We are going to examine what we can do in the near term” as well. When it comes to the long wait times, Holmes noted it’s not just the RDN.

“If you’re being informed that other local governments are all doing it quite quickly and we’re the slow ones, what I can tell you is in conversation with my peers in other local governments is it is a struggle everywhere … as is the staffing problem.”

At the Dec. 14 board meeting, directors passed a motion to hire temporary staff to assist with the current backlog of permits.

Directors also approved supporting a service review of development approvals and building inspection aimed at reducing processing times for permits.

The motion directed that the strategy be done by a consultant.

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