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Surrey needs to improve tenant improvement permit processing times, Annis says

Nagra says better communication needed between city and permit applicants

A Surrey councillor says the city’s planning department should focus more on tenant improvement building permit processing times while another councillor says it should also work on improving communications with building permit applications in general.

According to a corporate report approved by council on July 11, last month tenant improvement application processing time was 11 weeks above its “established guarantee target” of 10 weeks while processing time for other categories – single family residences for example – came in either below or on target.

The city receives on average 595 tenant improvement building permit applications per year and received 131 in the second quarter of this year, 12.6 per cent lower than in the same period last year and year to date, the number of new applications is 12 per cent lower than in 2021.

The report indicates that based on processing time over the last 30 days, the current average processing time for a tenant improvement application is 11 weeks.

Coun. Linda Annis said because the time against the target is higher and yet the applications for tenant improvements is less ” tells me we should be getting them through quicker.

“I have a huge concern around these because so many of the tenant improvements are small and independent businesses and for them, they have their life savings in starting up in a new business perhaps and when things drag on, it potentially can be a huge financial hardship for them,” she told her fellow council members. “So I would really like to see planning focus on the tenant improvement piece, particularly with how quickly the city is growing I think we need to put a lot more focus in that area.”

READ ALSO: Surrey making ‘significant progress’ on permit processing times for building houses

Coun. Mandeep Nagra, meantime, said the “one thing we need to work on I think is the communication part. I think that’s where most of these delays are occurring.

“I would like to see that strategy probably in the next report.”

Jeff Arason, Surrey’s acting general manager for planning and development, said one trend the city is seeing is “maybe the applicant and the owner may not have a full appreciation of everything that’s still outstanding with them so we’re engaging with more proactive communication with them.”

This, he said, is to “make sure they’re fully aware of the status of their application and any materials that are outstanding or that may be outstanding that they may not be aware of in order to again help get them into the guaranteed time frame that we’re working toward.”

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About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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