Calgary Building Approval Timelines much improved indicates Home Builders Study
According to the 2022 Municipal Benchmark Study, Calgary has made improvements in two key areas related to the local development and building: Planning Features and Approvals. This is a notable acknowledgement considering that Calgary has continued to experience extraordinarily high growth and development activity, with over 18,000 building permits issued, and total construction value of over $5.5 billion in 2022. Calgary is one of the country’s fastest growing major cities and expects to welcome at least 88,000 new Calgarians over the next four years accompanied by strong development and building activity.
The Study makes specific mention of Calgary’s successful approach in establishing customized timelines with applicants, as a best practice. The study notes Calgary’s timelines for development approvals are “less than half of the study-wide average” at just 5.4 months.
“We hear from our development and building industry customers that timeliness of approvals is one of the single biggest factors The City can influence in housing affordability,” says Stuart Dalgleish, General Manager Planning & Development Services, City of Calgary. “We are exceptionally pleased that this stood out as a strength of ours.”
Calgary remains one of the country’s most affordable cities with respect to income-to-housing-cost ratio, which is a key factor in attracting talent and improving economic resilience.
The benchmarking study conducted by the Canada Home Builders Association (CHBA) looks at three housing affordability factors: approvals processes, timelines and development charges.
The City of Calgary received an 85 per cent score overall for features that support an efficient planning system. Noteworthy Calgary efficiency elements and scores include, availability of key planning documents (100%), accountability (100%), and e-submissions / e-payments (88%).
"Calgary’s ranking indicates that our municipality has an efficient planning approvals system that is business-friendly. It validates that our focus on performance improvements and reforms, and coupled with transparency and accountability is working,” says Dalgleish. “While this study acknowledges several customer service gains and performance improvements, we have a culture of continuous improvement at The City, and remain steadfast in our commitment bettering our services and ourselves, to not only provide an exceptional customer experience for both our development and building industry customers and Calgarians.”
The study notes that a key area of improvement is to make land use redesignations available online instead of requiring in-person submission. Fortunately, since March 2020, Calgary has in fact enabled online submissions for all applications.
In addition, The City has broadened its customer service approach in recognition of customers’ individual and evolving needs. Not only are services offered in person, online and over the phone, free webinars addressing popular and emerging building and business topics are offered up to several times a month. As well, this past May, The City launched the Business Experience Rep program in which every applicant applying for a business license is assigned a representative who guides them through the entire licensing process, creating faster and more predictable outcomes.
Our city-building work, in collaboration with development and building industry partners, has created a community that is ranked as the Most Liveable City across The Americas and third most liveable in the world, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.
City of Calgary development approval timeline commitment's and processing times can be found on calgary.ca