New online tool in North Cowichan will make development applications more accessible to the public. (File photo)

North Cowichan to make zoning applications more transparent with online tool

New online tool to be introduced in new year

North Cowichan is looking to make information regarding land-use and development applications more easily available to the public.

Council endorsed the roll out of the new online tool, which will be called “Building North Cowichan”, for early in the new year at its meeting on Oct. 10.

When fully implemented, people will be able to access detailed information on active permits and applications, including drawings, technical information, background studies, the proponents’ contact information and the ongoing status of the application as it goes through the approval process.

“This tool allows the community to serve itself, reducing requests for information and freeing up valuable staff time,” said Chris Hutton, North Cowichan’s community planning coordinator, in a staff report.

He said, when implemented, staff will ask applicants to consent to the publication of application information.

“The full scope and aim of the project is to include all application types that are reviewed by council, which are typically developments the public would like to be informed about,” Hutton said.

Hutton said the “Building North Cowichan” tool, an extension of existing software already being used by the municipality, will cost approximately $14,000 to implement.

“This tool provides access to information for individuals and community partners,” he said.

“The ability to self serve is a starting point to meaningful dialogue.”

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