New group to smooth communications between developers and district

A group has been formed to create better communications between local developers and the District of Lake Country.

A group has been formed to create better communications between local developers and the District of Lake Country

Following the rollout of a recent Business Systems Review, the district is working to improve the development approvals process.

The municipality has experienced significant growth over the past few years, outpacing most local governments in the province. Recent census figures reveal that Lake Country is the fastest growing community in the Central Okanagan, which is itself the fastest growing region in British Columbia.

Acknowledging the previous challenges that came with rapid growth, district staff are busy working to move beyond previous concerns about timelines and process efficiency.

“While no one wants to be over-regulated,” said Mayor James Baker, “our goal is to create a development process that effectively balances community safety, environmental protection and community building, with an efficient and fair approvals process that promotes investment in our community”.

With this goal in mind, a new liaison group has been created, ensuring that direct communication exists between developers building the community and the municipality.

Despite recent cuts to their workforce, district staff are instituting a file timeline process meant to ensuring that applicants are aware of their approvals date immediately upon application—a first in the region.

“We’re also excited to be working with council on improving the development permit process, allowing for some fast tracking and greater permit exemptions,” said Mark Koch, director of planning and development.

“The improvement strategy has interestingly highlighted that most of the building and planning applications are processed within target timelines,” Koch said, “but we need to now focus on the files that drag out, thereby frustrating applicants”.

Chief administrative officer Alberto De Feo said, “while balancing all community interests is no easy task, our objective is to ensure that residents have access to a reasonable approvals process, and that all applications are processed in a way that is understandable, consistent and efficient.”

While all involved acknowledge that such improvement is an ongoing objective and that it may not be possible to please all groups, Baker said Lake Country is proud to be engaging with residents, taking steps to welcome new investment and improve services for local tax payers.

“Beyond that, we are also working hard to ensure that new development helps the community keep up with our pressing infrastructure needs,” said the mayor.