Development application timelines are getting longer - impacting the ability to put up the needed housing

By Pepper Parr

September 28th, 2022



The length of time it takes to get a building permit application through city hall is a contentious issue.

The builders complain but nothing seems to change.

Is there really a problem at the municipal level and if there is a problem can it be defined

The Altus Group Economic Consulting was retained by BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association) to undertake a study of several factors that may be contributing to housing affordability issues in major housing markets across the Greater Toronto Area (“GTA”), such as municipal approval processes, resulting timelines for approvals, and government charges levied by municipalities.

The study compares approaches that municipalities have in place to deal with the approval and development of new housing. It also highlights key features (and associated benefits of those features) in promoting the approval of new housing and ultimate construction, as well as the cost implications of municipal processes and policies. The analysis presented in the study was based on research done on 16 municipalities across the GTA.

Rankings can be misleading and some of the numbers need some clarification

Burlington did not do very well in the ranking 8th out of the 16. Oakville came second and Milton was third.

Some municipalities still do not make important features of the process transparently available, such as application requirements, terms of references for technical studies, or other key planning documents available to applicants, which can hinder the quality of submissions received, and can indirectly impact municipal review timelines;

Many applicants are required to submit a wide array of technical studies, and while many are certainly necessary, our analysis has found up to 42 different possible types of studies over the range of municipalities studied. With even 10 to 20 studies being required per application, this can significantly increase the amount of time it takes to get to a complete application, adds complexity to municipalities reviewing the full submissions, and strains the resources of private-sector planning firms (and other technical experts) to fulfil application requirements;

Municipal approval timelines in the GTA are among the worst of major municipalities across Canada and have deteriorated significantly compared to the findings presented in the previous the 2020 Study. Average timelines are 27% to 51% longer than those reported in the 2020

The report is lengthy; we will complete our review and report in depth soon soon.

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