The City of Rossland is one of 43 B.C. communities to recieve a government grant to help improve their property development permit process.
With increasing numbers of applications and several development projects underway and pending, Rossland will receive $175,000 to create a system so property owners and developers can cut through the red tape.
“We were really pleased to get this grant because improving our development permit approval processes has been a goal, but it’s so hard to work it into the busy workload of our small staff,” said Rossland Mayor Kathy Moore. “This will enable us to get outside, professional assistance to get the job done.”
The Local Government Development Approvals Program is supporting local governments in their efforts to help people and communities get the homes they need built faster and help support economic recovery.
The projects represent a wide range of actions that will help municipal governments improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their development approval process, allowing them to better meet the needs of their communities.
For Rossland, its goal in applying and improving the process has three phases. It will first analyze the current development process, policies, and guidelines; then optimize manuals, bylaws, policy and communication materials to expedite the approvals process; and finally to assess and implement a modern permitting software, which will help standardize and streamline development processes, automate tedious manual steps, and manage all permitting workflows from start to finish.
In the past five years, development in Rossland has grown rapidly. The number of building permits went from 116 in 2016 to 145 in 2020, and new residential units has nearly tripled going from 16 in 2016 to 45 in 2020. The city has seen numerous infill projects as well as large scale subdivisions and building projects. The growing number of development permits, however, is making it difficult for staff to process them expeditiously.
Rossland was voted one of the top-5 cities in Canada to relocate to and live in outside urban areas, and was identified in a 2020 housing needs study by the Regional District Kootenay Boundary to have the highest population growth rate in the region. A combination of desirability and necessity will mean a more efficient permitting process will ensure the city will be ready and able to respond when opportunities for growth and adaptation arise.
“I am really proud of the concrete improvements Rossland has made over the last few years to modernize our corporation,” said Moore. “We have an incredible staff of really talented, competent and professional people. However, the strain of growth has meant we haven’t been able to accomplish everything on our ‘To do’ list. Again, this grant will really help.”
Provincially, projects include everything from conducting internal reviews of current development approvals processes, to identifying opportunities for improvement, upgrading to online development application platforms, and developing workshops or seminars to help developers better understand the application requirements.