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May 30, 2019

Raising fees will speed building permits and inspections, says London city hall

 

 

As reported in The London Free Press, more staff, higher fees and new rules to penalize people stalling inspections.

A proposed new building bylaw includes changes to the way city hall manages building permits and inspections, coupled with a warning that the department will fall behind unless new employees are hired.

But Peter Kokkoros, London’s deputy chief building official, says raising fees for developers applying for permits — another tweak in the bylaw — will cover the costs of the department’s growing ranks.

“It’s a self-sustained model; it’s not covered by the taxpayer,” he said. “It’s generally accepted practice throughout the province that you have to generate enough revenue to cover your costs.”

The proposal is to hire six additional employees: two managers, a customer service rep, an architectural planner and two plan and building inspectors.

Earlier this year, politicians confronted a nearly $1-million shortfall that wasn’t covered by revenue from permit fees. The boosted rates will prevent that from happening again, staff said.

Generally, the development industry is supportive of raising those fees, which haven’t been touched since the last building bylaw was approved in 2012, knowing that it will result in better service, Kokkoros said.

“That’s what they’re getting for their buck, so to speak. ‘You want to increase my fees? I’m OK with that, but I expect to see improved service delivery.’ That’s what this model is all about.”

An audit done last year showed 20 per cent of building permits were not being issued on time, based on the timelines set by the province.

London’s permit fees for single detached homes and apartment buildings are well below the average of similarly-sized municipalities, the report accompanying the new bylaw suggests. Londoners will be able to weigh in on these and other changes to the bylaw at next Tuesday’s planning committee meeting. A public meeting begins in council chambers no earlier than 5 p.m.

Keep reading in The London Free Press 

 


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