They’re trying to make the application process just a little easier for those who want to have something built in Delta.
Aimed at finding ways to streamline the development process and reduce red tape, the Mayor's Task Force on Building Permits and Development has been looking at various ideas, already having brought some to council.
Some of the ideas currently being considered by the task force that have yet to make the council table include Delta having an internal ombudsperson for development applications and building permits.
The task force was told the city has heard that a challenge for its residents has been to identify where to go to be heard when they run into problems in the process.
A new position, the ombudsperson would be a “problem solver” who can investigate complaints, has some authority, and can propose recommendations around staff decisions.
The person would “have an independent voice that can objectively listen and facilitate resolution of issues.”
The task force, meanwhile, also supported another proposal which was approved by council last week.
That change now gives the community planning director and deputy director the authority to approve third reading extension requests for rezoning applications, without having to go to council for approval.
Those senior staffers can now, on their own, grant a first extension request to a maximum of six months, while subsequent extension requests could be granted for a maximum of three months.
A staff report notes that rezoning application requirements can usually be completed within one year of council’s third reading to ensure that projects move forward in a timely manner, but sometimes additional time is needed.
Rezoning application requirements usually include completing the detailed engineering design, executing legal documents and paying applicable fees and security deposits.
Since 2015, council reviewed a total of 79 requests for third reading extensions and over the past two years an increasing number of extensions have been sought.
Over the past five years, none of the 79 requests for third reading extensions have been denied by council.
“Each third reading extension request takes space on the Council agenda that could be utilized for debate of other issues. Furthermore, avoiding the need for Council approval would streamline the rezoning application process as staff would not be required to prepare a report for Council review and applicants would receive an answer to their request more quickly than they do now.” the report explains.
The report also notes, “This would remove the vast majority of third reading extension requests from the Council agenda, while maintaining Council's ability to deny an extension request if the project is unduly delayed without progress being made or to refer an extension request to a public hearing if new information has come forward.”
Meanwhile, the provincial government is also reviewing development application processing across the region.
The government established a task force which came out with a report containing recommendations Delta planning staff say align with work and discussions of the mayor’s task force.