COQUITLAM, B.C., Oct. 19, 2021 – More online services and other improvements are in the works in Coquitlam to support housing and other important construction projects.
Enhancements to development services in the coming months will include pre-approved housing plans, and more efficient handling of applications at various stages. The measures will add to the dozens of other improvements to Coquitlam’s development application processes achieved through the Development Application Process Review (DAPR) program.
Service Improvements Support Economic Recovery
The City introduced DAPR in 2018 to help make Coquitlam’s development application processes more efficient and user-friendly. Since then, staff across multiple departments and divisions have collaborated on a variety of DAPR initiatives that have brought operational efficiencies, increased the use of automation and enhanced customer service.
DAPR results in the past year have included:
- Reducing Board of Variance processing times by 10 per cent by reverse-engineering the process to seek efficiencies;
- Updating the Zoning Bylaw to minimize variances and establishing new criteria that reduces steps and streamlines the application process;
- Saving up to 10 days of administrative time per file by updating Building Permit close-out procedures;
- Increased use of software, leading to increased collaboration, greater automation of processes and a foundation for ongoing modernization of processes;
- Increasing the use of digital tools through staff training;
- Launching a how-to guide and development permit guidelines checklist for the Housing Choices program, which is facilitating more small-scale, ground-oriented housing options in Southwest Coquitlam; and
- Updating all Planning and Development webpages for plain language and clarity.
An infographic detailing these accomplishments is available at www.coquitlam.ca/development.
More Enhancements to Come
Work will soon begin on a new online portal for E-Plans and development and building permits, funded through a recent $465,000 grant from the provincial Local Government Development Approvals Program, administered by the Union of B.C. Municipalities.
Developed over the next 18 to 24 months, the new portal will automate and simplify many aspects of the permit application process for housing and other construction projects, provide applicants more information as their applications are processed, and improve communication between the City and applicants.
Also in development this fall is a public-facing development information portal that will include details and an interactive map of applications in progress. This portal is anticipated to be launched in 2022 and will be augmented with more detail as the broader E-Plans and permit application portal is developed.
The City will also launch pre-approved plans for Housing Choices projects this fall that will bring time and cost savings for both applicants and the City. In addition, Coquitlam plans to complete a pre-application “right-sizing” project by the end of 2022 that will clarify the requirements and processes of each application stage – development inquiry, pre-application and full application – for more efficient handling of applications.
About the Development Application Process Review
The DAPR is a top-level priority in the 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 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. This has included quarterly meetings between the City and Urban Development Institute, along with a four-session Developer Forum workshop series in 2019 and 2020/2021. Coquitlam also helped form Municipal Innovators Community - West, a network of public servants across Metro Vancouver that meets to share innovative process improvements, best practices and lessons learned. Coquitlam hosted the most recent virtual session held in June 2021.
Business Services Manager
City of Coquitlam