I would like to raise my concerns with regards to the current wait times for building permits in Squamish.
I am a general contractor in town and I have watched the permitting times go from a point of being reasonable with an ability to project a schedule that work into our timelines to where homeowners and contractors are looking at up to six months for a small renovation.
This is stressful for clients in the sense that if they are holding the property they have costs associated to that and if the property is a much-needed rental for Squamish, they lose that income for the extended downtime as well.
From the contracting side, it is just about impossible to schedule these jobs now.
Trades sometimes must find other work as the original time given from the municipality rarely comes to pass. In turn, this directly affects the construction business as we cannot use the trades that we have established relationships with, undermining the guarantee good work for all concerned.
The current wait times will just encourage unpermitted work which is something the Building Department has tried hard to eliminate for a long period of time.
Should this happen there will no doubt be more use of municipal time policing unpermitted construction. This deters concentrating on the much-needed inspection time for permits in place.
In discussion with other general contractors, I have found all agree with me. They are having to find infill work to keep their employees on payroll and keep their teams together.
On top of this, there is a DOS Wildfire DPA that is potentially going to be introduced early next year. This will add another layer to the building permitting process and compound the workload of the Building and Planning Dept even more.
I agree with the premise of this policy but strongly suggest there is a need to deal with the first issue before introducing another to the mix. This is not a criticism of the current Building or Planning Dept as I am in there often and see the number of people they deal with and workload they have on a regular basis.
Nevertheless, this is something that needs to be addressed and a solution found to allow for permitting to be processed in a timelier manner.
One potential solution is a small surcharge that can be added to the permitting cost so it can be outsourced or additional staff can be hired to relieve pressure on those currently in the department.
Aaron Wilson is a local contractor and owner of Kia Kaha Construction Ltd.