COQUITLAM, B.C., April 11, 2022 – Coquitlam is making rapid progress on its latest efforts to cut red tape and improve efficiency for housing and other construction applications.
The City’s Planning and Development staff recently updated Council on notable achievements for its Development Application Process Review (DAPR) program that will not only save staff time and resources but improve flexibility and service for qualifying development applications.
Sound development application processes and strong staff oversight have guided the City’s collaborative approach to housing development and high success rate in bringing much-needed housing to the community.
DAPR updates typically take place each fall, but staff added a semi-annual update this year to highlight progress on initiatives involving file management, security fees, increased automation and online services. Last fall’s highlights are available in the Development Application Process Review Report Card 2021.
Improvements Bring More Efficiency, Flexibility
Introduced in 2018, the DAPR program is working to make Coquitlam’s development application processes more efficient and user-friendly. For example, since 2019 the average time between development application submission and the first review letter being issued has been reduced by 40 per cent. Recent headway has also been made in these key areas:
- Efficient file management: Starting this January, new online functions for managing application information are helping improve consistency, tracking, transparency and record-keeping for application files. These improvements will be particularly helpful for large-scale multi-year projects when City or applicant staff assigned to a project may change over time.
- Flexible development securities: Positive feedback has been received for measures that increase applicant flexibility. Through an ongoing pilot, the City is accepting surety bonds instead of cash or letter of credit for future required off-site works, which increases cash flow during a project by keeping security commitments off developers’ balance sheet. The City is also piloting a revised process for building permit damage deposits to allow developers to repair any damage to City infrastructure in a timely manner, resulting in 115 hours of staff time savings.
- New Development and Building Permit Application Portal: The City will issue a request for proposals this month for a new online portal for E-Plans and development and building permits, funded by a $465,000 grant from B.C.’s Local Government Development Approvals Program, administered by the Union of B.C. Municipalities. The portal will enable online applications, payments and document submission, allow applicants to track submissions, and improve communications.
- New Development Information Portal: A new public-facing portal will launch this year, starting with an interactive map showing properties with current or recent development applications and details. Future updates – in parallel with the new Development and Building Permit Application Portal – will offer additional information, such as linked reports and feedback opportunities.
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.
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