A growing wave of development in the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) is on pace to peak at record-breaking levels in 2021.
At the Thursday, May 21, 2021 Regular Meeting, Gerald Christie, Manager, Development Services, informed the Board that all elements of the Development Services department are experiencing a rapid upswing. This includes every aspect of the department including the number of building permits, planning applications and bylaw enforcement files.
If the current trend continues, total new development services files are projected to be double the 2020 mark of 691, coming in at an estimated 1,392 new files for 2021.
Simply keeping up with the volume of phone and email requests is challenging. In 2018, the CSRD’s Planning Assistant responded to approximately 10 information requests per day. In 2021, that number has jumped to between 30 to 76 requests each business day.
“Year-over-year, we have never experienced this kind of growth before in the CSRD and we are heading into what has traditionally been some of the busiest months of the season… We are doing all we can to maintain service levels, but timelines are starting to extend,” noted Christie.
Christie says other municipalities and regional districts are also contending with increased development pressures. This was echoed by Board Chair Kevin Flynn, who commented that the City of Salmon Arm is also contending with an influx of development applications.
The CSRD introduced new procedures in 2020 to help streamline services and continue to try to find ways to make things more efficient. Video and other virtual technologies are now being used to fulfil some elements of the building permit process. This reduces travel time for the building inspectors and enhances the CSRD’s ability to continue to protect public safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Should the development trends continue, staff will bring the issue back to the Board for discussion in the fall as part of the CSRD’s budget planning process.