Over the course of several months, we examined the existing Building Department and its services, interviewed all staff in the department, met with close to thirty (30) representatives of the development community, and examined the building permit functions in other high-growth municipalities, primarily in British Columbia.
At the outset of the project, we met with Council and senior management to identify seven (7) objectives for the study:
- Provide Excellent Customer Service
- Develop a Culture of Collaboration
- Position for Future Growth and Investment
- Promote Innovation
- Reduce Permit Processing Times
- Provide Certainty
- Ensure Accountability
Through our research and interviews, we identified a range of issues related to the existing application review process, the Department’s staffing model, technology deficiencies, and the relationships between the Department and developers. Seventeen (17) recommendations aimed at addressing the issues and achieving the objectives were provided to the City for consideration. Individual recommendations identified the need for additional application guidance, a fast-track program for simple Part 9 projects, a mechanism to limit the number of successive plan reviews, changes to the Department’s organizational structure, the establishment of a Joint Building Permit Working Group with the development community, a code of conduct for the City’s Building Officials, regular customer surveys, and other items.
Neilson Strategies presented the report to City Council and participated in the implementation of the recommendations.