City commits $26m to transform licence, permit system, slash service times

Vancouver will spend nearly $26 million during the next two and half years to transform basic services at the city,  slashing service times and streamlining scores of permit and licensing processes.

Council today unanimously approved the program, the largest in the city’s history, which will affect 200,000 customers annually and impact 800 staff in seven departments.

Processing times for single family dwelling applications have already been cut to six weeks in 2012 from 15 to 18 weeks in 2011 and further improvements are expected.

It’s a massive answer to this week’s cranky attack on the city’s “dysfunctional licensing, permitting process” by former councillor Peter Ladner in Business in Vancouver.

Changes proposed include:

  • streamlining 40 permit tracking processes to allow customers to apply online and track their progress;
  • reduction of 636 business licence categories to 98;
  • a single point of contact and one-stop shop service model, down from the current 11 service desks;
  • introduction of electronic development plans; and
  • a field/mobile inspection capability that will allow inspectors to plan their routes more efficiently, review electronic plans in the field and issue reports and permits on the spot.

Note to Ladner, who is sceptical the oft-promised mobile business licence will arrive, even in seven years: today’s report again promised to put this important cross-boundary tool for contractors into place this year.