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City says Cranbrook poised to meet changes in proposed Housing Supply Act

City officials say Cranbrook is well-positioned to meet the needs that may come with a proposed piece of legislation from the B.C. government.

The proposed Housing Supply Act is meant to prioritize building housing in municipalities through better collaboration between the B.C. and local governments.

“With these proposed changes, the onus is being pushed back onto municipalities like Cranbrook to find ways to speed up the turnaround on various approvals like rezoning, development permits and building permits with the intent to help streamline the ability of developers to build,” said city officials.

An internal review of development approvals in the city last year showed that Cranbrook is able to turn around development permits in an average of about two months.

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This is compared to 15 other municipalities across the province, including Penticton and Kelowna – both of which had approval times of about 13 to 14 months.

“The City’s Engineering and Development Service department has the fastest turnaround time from a completed application submission to the issuance of development approvals in all areas: development permits, development variance permits, zoning bylaw amendments and Official Community Plan amendments, than any of the other surveyed communities,” said Cranbrook officials.

This finding comes despite Cranbrook having the fewest number of employees in its Engineering and Development Service department at the survey time.

Officials said three more staff, including two community planners and a Building Inspector/Planning Technician, have been hired since that time.

City staff boast that Cranbrook also has lower fees, charges, development cost charges and community amenity contributions than most of the 15 communities analyzed.

“City staff do an amazing job working proactively with the development community and providing great customer services to get their projects online quickly, and these statistics back that up,” said Mike Matejka, Director of Engineering and Development Services, with the City of Cranbrook. “With the additional investments in new staff, permitting software, and updates to the OCP and Zoning Bylaw, the City is well positioned to work with all stakeholders to address housing needs.”

Some proposed changes are in the works to streamline the development process even further.

“Council is considering changes to the Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw that will allow increased diversification of housing types and sizes in Cranbrook,” said Mayor Wayne Price. “This would allow for smaller parcels with a greater amount of lot coverage, increased height and expanded dwelling capacity for R-1 and R-2 zoning types.”

The city also plans to introduce an online, digital system for land-based administration and application processes.

“Developers, builders, businesses, and the public will have the ability to apply for permits and licenses online and complete the entire process digitally. Applicants will be able to view the stages of their permits and be automatically notified throughout the process,” said city staff.

According to City officials, 18.3 housing units were added per 1,000 people in 2020.

“Since 2018, we have seen over 897 dwelling units built in Cranbrook, quite remarkable when you consider our size,” said Darren Brewer, Business Development Office with the City of Cranbrook. “We have refreshed almost ten percent of our housing stock in those five years. We have invested in ourselves and the results show it.”

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