Though building permit backlogs grew throughout the region over the spring and summer, Burnaby's director of planning and building, Lou Pelletier, says the turnaround time in Burnaby is now back on track.
The average number of permits for single and two-family home construction is 41 per month - though for 2012 up to the end of September, it was 46, according to an email from Pelletier. The city issued 67 permits in July and 58 in August in that category, he added.
"This did result in a temporary extension to our typical processing times," he wrote. "Permit volumes have returned to average levels in September and October."
The usual processing time is four to six weeks, Pelletier said. This is in line with the regional average of four to five weeks for a single-family home, which was mentioned in a recent City of Coquitlam staff report, according to an Oct. 17 Coquitlam NOW article.
The article also stated City of Coquitlam staff had surveyed the turnaround times for single-family construction permits in 10 nearby municipalities and Burnaby was at the bottom of the pack, with an average 10-week turnaround.
But Peter Simpson, president and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders' Association, said members haven't been mentioning Burnaby specifically.
"I can honestly say I haven't had anybody pick up the phone and complain about it," he said in a recent phone interview, adding he'd spoken with a renovator, a small volume builder and a highrise builder, and they hadn't had concerns about Burnaby.
"In the 19 years I've been doing this job as president of the homebuilders' association, I've never had anyone voice serious complaints about Burnaby," he added.
Burnaby has high levels of transparency and accountability and is well organized, Simpson said, adding contractors and developers seem to have good experiences with plan checkers and know what is expected of them.
The association has found some municipalities in the region are having backlog issues, he added, with more permit applications coming through or in some cases, staff shortages affecting turnarounds.
Like Burnaby, all cities should have the ability for plan checkers to answer questions, Ralph Belisle, president of TQ Construction, said, speaking to the issue as a general contractor.
Burnaby is well organized and has good staff, he said, and allows for good, open dialogue with plan checkers.
However, Burnaby does differ from some jurisdictions where Belisle is encouraged to speak with the head of the planning or building departments, he added.
"In Burnaby and Vancouver, I'm not," he said.
Because Belisle is a renovator, often the answers he needs are not clearly expressed in a city's building codes, he explained, so he needs to go to the city for more clarification.
The introduction of a renovation query desk at the City of Vancouver was a great idea, he said, adding more cities should have staff specifically there to answer questions about renovations.
Burnaby and Vancouver were prepared for the rush following the recession, according to Belisle, while other municipalities in the region were not.
He has not heard of any problems arising with permits for his projects in Coquitlam, he said in reference to the Coquitlam city staff report on its backlog.