City of Kelowna staff is looking to take some of the workload off council regarding development permits.
In 2019, the provincial government began allowing municipalities to delegate authority to staff in approving minor development variance permits (DVP).
The change would also benefit planning staff.
“What we are looking to do is to save some staff time from what we potentially consider low-value activities in the development process,” Ryan Smith, director of planning, explained to council.
Minor DVPs accounted for approximately 35 to 40 per cent of development files over the last five years, Smith added.
“A planner at the City of Kelowna might handle between 65 and 90 development applications a year. It could be nearly half a planning position that we would save and be able to repurpose.”
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Coun. Luke Stack liked the direction staff was taking.
“It’s certainly consistent with the direction the province wants us to go, is to look for efficiencies in how we approve things,” he added.
The delegated authority would not be used to approve every request.
“There will be some that get turned down, and an application will have the ability to appeal to council,” said Smith.
Staff currently has delegated authority to approve commercial and industrial form and character development permits, as well as certain infill housing, without variances.
Smith suggested that staff report back to council once a year to monitor effectiveness, however, Mayor Tom Dyas asked if a six-month time frame might be better.
“Just so we have greater clarity on what type of variances that we’re actually speaking of, it may give us some good insight into working this through.”
Public notification would still be required when considering a minor DVP, which pleased Coun. Charlie Hodge.
“Every resident should have their say,” he said.