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Developers frustrated by lake delays in Lake Country – Kelowna News

Written by Javed Iqbal

Time is money, and for developers waiting and awaiting approval for projects in Lake Country, time costs them money.

Several developers have approached over the past many weeks to express their frustrations over the time they have to wait for “simple” building permits.

At times, months, if not more. Some say they have waited over a year for approvals that should have taken a fraction of that time.

One developer told Castanet that he is in the unenviable position of pre-selling homes in anticipation of getting permits, and the delay means the current climate is driving up the cost of materials and construction costs and putting them in an awkward position.

Several developers attended a meeting at Lake Country City Hall on Wednesday at the request of newly hired director of planning and development Jared Kassel.

Kassel, who has been on the job since the beginning of 2022, says he wanted to talk to the development community about the permitting process, about the roles and responsibilities of building inspectors in the district.

“Much of the conversation involved challenges related to making applications in the district and the timelines we face – the resource issues we face,” Kassel told Castanet News.

The problems, Kassel said, are multifaceted, including the boom in growth that has seen the municipality grow by 22 percent since 2016, according to figures contained in the latest census.

“We certainly also have resource challenges, not just in the construction department. These development applications are getting bottlenecks in the planning department and also in the engineering work.”

Kassel says some of the delays developers are experiencing also relate to the complexity of development applications, in part due to the fact that more is being built on slopes due to lack of land in Lake Country.

“We also get more multi-family houses in the form of terraced houses and such projects.

“They require more oversight. Things need to be addressed more often because they are more complex files.”

He says the service challenges have also grown, where the capacity of sewers and water mains is maximized, which means the infrastructure needs to be expanded.

Kassel believes that solutions can be found to the challenges that the district and the development community face.

One solution is to add resources to help clear the backlog of files. Talks with the Council to approve these resources are taking place.

And while those positions would not be in place until the 2023 budget, Kassel says a few positions in the planning and engineering departments are in the process of being filled.

The second solution, he says, is to look at internal processes, things like the official community plan, procedures, and zoning regulations.

“Based on my past experience, I think we can streamline some of our processes to make them more efficient and less bureaucratic.

“There is no doubt that these things take time. A lot of things have to go through the council and those discussions have to happen before changes can happen.”

Frustrated by the delays, members of the development community told Castanet that Wednesday’s meeting was mostly positive.

One developer says that they would like to work with the municipality to find solutions that will work for everyone.

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Javed Iqbal

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