COQUITLAM, B.C., June 16, 2022 – Coquitlam’s use of technology to transform its development application processing is not only saving time and resources, but has earned the City an industry award.
Earlier this month, the City received a Tech Trailblazer Award from the 2022 Granicus Digital Government Awards for automating processes for housing and other applications that were formerly completed manually. The Tech Trailblazer Award is earned by organizations “charging forward with digital transformation,” according to Granicus, sponsor of the 13th annual awards and a producer of government workflow cloud tools.
Coquitlam was one of 13 winners in nine categories, and the only Canadian government agency among the 29 nominees.
Technology Upgrade Improves Efficiency
The City previously handled its development planning referral process – during which applications are reviewed by internal departments and external agencies – through a labour-intensive process involving email and spreadsheets. Tracking was challenging and the manual steps slowed down turnaround times.
To streamline the review process, Coquitlam introduced a Granicus digital platform that stores all project data, automates communications to and from reviewers, consolidates responses, generates reports, flags issues and tracks processing times.
The result has been a savings of up to 100 hours per project, or as much as 20,000 hours per year. Since 2019, the average time between development application submission and issuing of the first review letter has been reduced by 40 per cent.
The use of time-saving software is among various improvements the City has introduced since 2018 through its Development Application Process Review (DAPR) program, which looks for ways to save staff time and resources and improve flexibility and service for qualifying development applications.
The more efficient processes allow for increased oversight while reducing delays for proposals that bring new housing and other amenities to meet the needs of the growing community.
Digital Awards Recognize Innovation
In their 13th year, the Digital Government Awards recognize government organizations and agencies at all levels that have embraced modern technologies that increase awareness of community programs, improve resident experiences, transform outdated processes, and inspire civic action.
Winners were selected by an internal Granicus advisory board and were evaluated based on a number of criteria including: government efficiency and effectiveness, program performance, customer satisfaction, and overall customer experience. More information about the awards can be found at https://granicus.com/digital-awards/
About the Development Application Process Review
Introduced in 2018, the DAPR is a top-level priority in Coquitlam’s annual business plan and supports the City’s strategic goal of Excellence in City Governance. With the aim of enhancing all aspects of the application process, the work includes ongoing review and update of workflows, steps, timelines, tools, standards and associated guidelines and policies. Information about Coquitlam’s development application services can be found at www.coquitlam.ca/development. Highlights of last year’s initiatives are available in the Development Application Process Review Report Card 2021.
Coquitlam a Regional Housing Leader
In addition to development process improvements in support of community building and housing delivery, the City’s Housing Affordability Strategy (HAS) also broadens the variety of housing types, sizes, prices and ownership available in Coquitlam.
Through the HAS, the City leverages its role and available tools as a municipality to:
- Provide developers with density incentives (more units) to create rental units;
- Secure partnerships with the development sector, senior levels of government and housing providers; and
- Redirect some developer density bonus fees (paid in exchange for more units) to the Affordable Housing Reserve Fund (AHRF) to support new affordable housing projects.
The results, as reported in Coquitlam’s Housing Affordability Strategy 2021 Progress Report, have positioned Coquitlam as one of the major contributors of secured rental housing within the region. To learn more, visit www.coquitlam.ca/housing.
Director, Development Services
City of Coquitlam