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City application process gets high marks

Campbell River processed development applications faster than 11 other similar-sized communities in each of the last four years.

City staff was consistently faster than the average time of the other communities in processing subdivision, zoning/rezoning, and development permit applications, according to a study conducted by consulting firm Acton.

The city’s best performance was in processing development permits.

In 2009 it took city planning staff 48 days to process applications, while the average was 100 days. With subdivision approval, it took 52 days in Campbell River when the average was 125 days in the same year.

Zoning/rezoning applications took 170 days in Campbell River while the average was about 190 days.

“Our stats are absolutely fantastic news,” Ross Blackwell, the city’s land use manager, said. “Application processing times are very important in attracting investment and development. If a community is perceived as having problems in terms of the amount of time it takes to process an application, that acts as a bit of a barrier to development.”

Blackwell said the statistics also reveal the value of the planning department. He was particularly impressed by last year’s numbers – a year when the department was short on resources.

Development permit processing times were on average 50 days per full time employee last year, while the average was about 80 days.

Subdivision approvals went through in about 90 days in Campbell River when the average was about 100 days.

The study, which was conducted at the request of the City of Vernon to measure the value of its planning services, also looked at single-dwelling processing times. Although information from 2007-2010 is not available for Campbell River, this year’s times can be compared with last year’s average. Currently the average processing time is about five days while in 2010, the average of the other 11 communities was 22 days.

Other than Vernon, Blackwell said all the other communities remained anonymous so the city could compare itself against an average, and not another municipality.

He said although it’s obvious Campbell River stacks up well, planning staff are not going to rest easy.

“You never know how you’re doing,” Blackwell said. “These stats tell us we’re doing a fabulous job but that’s no reason to sit back on our haunches. We’re looking for opportunities to raise the bar.

“We want to improve what we do and the way we do it to ensure the citizens and the investors of Campbell River get the greatest value.”

He said staff’s goal is to improve the city’s times even further.

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