Developers frustrated with permit delays in Lake Country

Developers tired of waiting

Time is money, and for developers waiting and waiting for permit approval for projects in Lake Country, time is costing them money.

Several developers have reached out over the past several weeks to voice their frustrations over the time they have to wait to get "simple" building permits.

At times, months, if not more. Some say they have been waiting over a year for approvals that should have taken a fraction of that time.

One developer told Castanet he is in the unenviable position of pre-selling homes in anticipation of getting permits, and the delay means the current climate is driving the cost of materials and construction costs up putting them in an awkward position.

Several developers attended a meeting at municipal hall in Lake Country Wednesday at the request of newly hired director of planning and development Jared Kassel.

Kassel, who has been on the job since early 2022, says he wanted to talk to the development community about the permitting process, about the roles and responsibilities of building inspectors within the district.

"A lot of the conversation involved challenges associated with making applications in the district and the timelines we are facing - the resourcing issues we are facing," Kassel told Castanet News.

The issues, Kassel said, are multi-faceted, including the boom in growth that has seen the municipality grow by 22 per cent since 2016 according to figures contained within the latest Census.

"We certainly do have resourcing challenges as well, not just in the building department. These development applications get bottle necked in the planning department and also engineering."

Kassel says some of the delay developers are experiencing relates as well to the complexity of development applications, in part due to the fact there is more building being done on slopes due to the scarcity of land in Lake Country.

"We are also getting more multi-family developments in the form of townhouses and projects like that.

"They require more oversight. Things have to go to council more often because they are more complex files."

He says servicing challenges have also grown where capacity of sewer lines and water lines are being maximized meaning infrastructure needs to be expanded.

Kassel does believe solutions to the challenges facing the district and the development community can be found.

One solution is adding resources to help clear the backlog of files. Conversations with council to approve those resources are taking place.

And while those positions wouldn't be in place until the 2023 budget, Kassel says a few positions within the planning and engineering departments are in the process of being filled.

The other solution, he says, is looking at internal processes, things such as the Official Community Plan, procedures and zoning bylaws.

"Based on my previous experience I believe we can streamline some of our processes to make them more efficient and less bureaucratic.

"There is no question these things take time. A lot of things need to go through council and those discussions need to happen before changes can happen."

While frustrated at the delays, members of the development community told Castanet the meeting Wednesday was, for the most part, positive.

One builder says they want to work together with the municipality to come up with solutions that will work for everybody.

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