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Going digital to get Delta housing built faster

The planning department says the city has made ‘significant progress’ on each of the projects that are to be implemented in 2023
The City of Delta is hoping its new development application system will improve customer convenience, as well as streamline the submission and review process for more application types. Sandor Gyarmati/Delta Optimist

The province has announced more help for municipalities to go digital to process development applications faster.

Delta North MLA and Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon has announced that people will be able to move into new homes faster as the province invests in digital permitting and the construction industry to make the process quicker and more collaborative.

The Ministry of Housing, with support from the Ministry of Citizens’ Services, among other initiatives, is working on digitizing the BC Building Code and the building permitting process with pilots in select local communities in 2024.

The government notes the building permitting process currently varies widely across local governments, with some using digital tools and some relying on paper. 

In 2021, the City of Delta received a $500,000 grant from the province as part of the Development Approvals Process Review (DAPR) initiative. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs introduced DAPR two years earlier to support local governments in improving development and construction approval processes and timelines, and in accelerating the construction of homes.

Since then, several projects got underway including Delta expanding its digital application (eApply) platform, improving digital tracking and triaging of applications, implementing enhancements within the Application Centre, as well as amending regulatory bylaws and development processes.

A recent update report to council from the planning department notes that when it comes to the eApply platform, the city purchased and installed a program, which allows staff to build eApply processes in-house. The goal is to process things like single-detached building permits, all plumbing permits and tree removal permits quicker.

Staff have also built and are testing new online applications for sign permits, board of variance, pre-application meetings, heritage conservation grants and residential demolition permits.

Staff are also working towards building more complex eApply processes, including for such applications as rezoning, subdivision and non-residential building permits, with the ultimate goal of having 100 per cent of applications submitted online.

With expanded digitization of application intakes, staff are also working towards building out digital tracking and triaging measures, which will allow for access to complex development and processing data in real time.

Meanwhile, the city last year engaged a consultant to undertake a process review of application intake procedures. Recommendations are being implemented, such as adjusting internal intake procedures, revising application package formats and improving development and building information available to the public.

In late 2022, Delta also launched a parcel information report on DeltaMap, which allows the public to pull a single report with information such as parcel size, zoning, official community plan designations, development permits areas, heritage protection, Agricultural Land Reserve and flood requirements.