COQUITLAM, B.C., Sept. 29, 2020 – Coquitlam builders and developers are experiencing measurably faster turnaround times and better service than ever, thanks to ongoing improvements to the City’s development application processes.
Through its Development Application Process Review (DAPR) program, the City has rolled out online payments and plan submission, video building inspections and various other efficiencies and enhancements this year to support the construction industry – and more improvements are on the way, according to a report to Council Monday.
Supporting Growth and Economic Recovery
Coquitlam initiated the DAPR in 2018 to streamline processes, reduce processing times and enhance customer service through greater use of technology and changes in policies and procedures.
Through the DAPR, the City has introduced a range of permanent and temporary measures this year to support the construction industry, which creates economic spinoffs such as jobs and purchases of goods and services.
The 2020 measures to date have reduced pre-application processing times by 15 per cent and building plan revision turnarounds by 40 per cent.
Enhancements have included:
- Electronic services such as online submissions of applications and plans (E-Plans), electronic payments, digital signatures and mark-up tools, video building inspections, and automated referral requests and financial calculations;
- A pilot for processing development and building permit applications concurrently;
- Updated checklists to place the right people and information at every stage of the process;
- Temporary deferral of part of the security performance deposit to later in the process;
- Temporary permits to enable restaurants and businesses to expand into outdoor spaces; and
- Various measures to improve problem-solving, including a new issues-resolution process, a development facilitator role to support applicants and staff, and guidelines to help staff evaluate if certain requirements are reasonable for a particular project.
Most of the new measures will stay and permanently improve the development application experience in Coquitlam. Temporary programs, like the security deposit deferrals and outdoor space expansion, will continue to be monitored and may be eased back, extended or permanently adopted over time.
More Improvements to Come
Planned enhancements this fall and into 2021 include:
- A survey of major development applicants this fall followed by four focus groups to collect industry feedback and suggestions;
- Training and implementation of the City’s new development application software, including a portal for real-time project tracking and information;
- Tools for automated customer feedback collection;
- Expansion of E-Plans online services to include more permit types and an applicant portal for development/building permits and business licences that will support the full application process, payments, tracking and communication;
- More user-friendly website information; and
- Earlier notification of development applications to neighbours.
About the Development Application Process Review
The DAPR is a priority in the annual business plan and supports the City’s strategic goal of Excellence in City Governance. The current focus is on improving services and processing of the most complex and common application types, such as Official Community Plan amendments, rezoning, and subdivision and development permits.
With the aim of enhancing all aspects of the application process, the work has entailed a detailed review and update of workflows, steps, timelines, tools, standards and associated guidelines and policies.
The DAPR efforts build on in-house expertise with best practices and industry feedback. For example, last year, Coquitlam held workshops to seek feedback from the Urban Development Institute and Homebuilders Association Vancouver, and helped form Municipal Innovators Community – West, a group of public servants across Metro Vancouver that meets twice a year to share innovative process improvements, best practices and lessons learned.
Options for Planning and Development Services
Planning and Development continues to operate Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Drop-in visits are now permitted at the Planning and Development customer service centre at City Hall, although queues are common due to public health protocols.
The department can also be reached at 604-927-3430 or by email, and file managers continue to be available by phone and email. Visit www.coquitlam.ca/development for more information and service updates.
Supporting Our Community During the Pandemic
The City of Coquitlam is here to help, with these resources:
- Visit www.coquitlam.ca/csrp to learn about the City’s Community Support and Recovery Plan, which is supporting the non-profit sector, businesses and residents through the pandemic;
- Visit www.coquitlam.ca/spirit for a free library of activities for all ages, including fitness, arts and culture, outdoor activities and ways to connect with your community; and
- Visit www.coquitlam.ca/covid19 for updates on City services and initiatives and COVID-19 health resources.
Coquitlam residents and businesses are also encouraged to follow the City of Coquitlam on social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and download the CoquitlamConnect mobile app for up-to-date City information. Links are available at www.coquitlam.ca/connect.
Director Development Services
Planning and Development Department
City of Coquitlam