Applications for building permits at record levels in the Cowichan Valley. Pictured is Phil Ladret, from Trillium Construction, working on a new home on Sherman Road in Duncan this week. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Building permit applications in Cowichan Valley at record levels

CVRD adjusts service levels to keep up with demand

The demand for building permits in the Cowichan Valley is at a record high.

The Municipality of North Cowichan has been responding to more than 600 development-related inquiries per month since April, which is a surge from the average of 420 per month in the previous six months.

As well, the Cowichan Valley Regional District has received 283 development applications from Jan. 1 to July 31, more than 40 applications more than were received during the same time period last year.

Ross Blackwell, the CVRD’s general manager of land use services, said the increase in demands for development permits, which include permit requests for industrial, commercial and residential projects, is likely connected to the ongoing construction boom in B.C. and the voracious demand for housing.

“The builders are trying to keep up with the market demands,” Blackwell said.

“They are on tight timelines to meet construction windows and to take advantage of the availability of the tradespeople. While all of this is great news for the trades and building industry, it makes it very hard for us to keep up with processing all the building applications that we are receiving.”

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To better serve those seeking building permits, Blackwell said the CVRD’s planning staff will be adjusting service levels to allow for more time to process the backlog of applications.

He said that, on a temporary basis, planning staff will limit their availability for telephone and front-counter inquiries to 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Mondays to Fridays.

“While this temporary service adjustment may inconvenience some customers, it will allow for a focused effort to keep building permits and other development applications moving in a timelier manner during the height of the construction season,” Blackwell said.

Natasha Horsman, North Cowichan’s community planning coordinator, said the municipality does not have any plans at this time to reduce or change public access to staff during office hours, which are currently 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., to meet the growing demand for building permits.

“But if the volume of development-related inquiries continues to increase, the department and council may need to reevaluate timelines for strategic and longer-term projects,” she said.

“Council will be discussing its priorities for the development services department at its meeting on Aug. 16.”

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