On September 12 Council agenda there is a report reviewing how Planning staff proposes to operate given the mandated shorter review times and possible financial penalties for not complying with the new timelines. These are in place due to the Bill 109 and Amendments to the Planning Act. As the Bill and Amendments are now in place I will not further comment on likelihood of the desired outcome (more houses more quickly) being achieved but will focus this post on how our Staff is proposing to deal with the new reality. Most people are not really able to understand why it takes so long for applications to be reviewed, processed and eventually approved but I think most people can appreciate why it’s important to figure out how to meet the timelines given the financial risks.
It is sadly ironic that cost of applications will likely increase: as reviewed in the report a major cause of current lengthy application review is that quality of applications, in terms of necessary details, is very poor which triggers providing feedback about errors or gaps and then waiting for the resubmission. To minimize that rework, Staff will be more rigorous in the early stages prior to applications being declared complete which is when the clock starts ticking. I say its ironic as we do need more houses which are affordable. If we need to hire more Staff we will need to raise the application fees; if we don’t property taxes will need to cover it.
I am supportive of the revisions to processes. I am going to ask for some financial statistics such as magnitude of application fees during the last couple years. As always, you can register to make a deputation to Council by registering at [email protected] by noon on Sept. 12. Also you can send in comments or questions to [email protected] and your email will be circulated to Council and relevant Staff members.