Have you experienced that when you embrace the confusion of approvals requirements, problems seem to melt away?
After working on hundreds of real estate development and infrastructure projects, I wholeheartedly embrace the confusion of approvals requirements!
Every municipality has different policies and different ways of applying them. Senior government approvals can take time. And, different Review Leads bring a different take on the rules. To truly embrace the confusion of approvals requirements and ensure effective problem-solving, I suggest following these 3 steps.
1. Know the ins and outs of land use regulations
Knowing which land use regulations apply to your project is critically important. It’s never too late to step back and take a fresh look to ensure regulatory risks are being managed. Given the complexity of land use regulations in BC, most Project Leads and Review Leads are unaware about requirements (see list at the bottom of this email). This can lead to surprise delays and costs. Are you confident that you know which rules apply/do not apply to your project?
2. Tackle government engagement
Once you’re confident in the rules, then, government engagement is essential to confirm and verify how the regulator(s) plan to approach the requirements. Who is the decision-maker? How can your team be most supportive of the team reviewing the project? What information will the review team need/not need?
3. Pay attention to the substance of your submissions
After you’re clear on the rules and how the regulator(s) plan to approach them, you will find that paying attention to the substance and quality of your submissions will reduce delays and costs. Could you add a summary to every technical report confirming that the approving Subject Matter Expert’s questions are answered?
If you resist (rather than embrace) the confusion of approvals requirements, you may be putting your business plan at risk.
Government approvals are one of three key threats to your project viability (along with construction and market absorption).
Approvals are messy – keep a sense of humour – get in there.
PS – Here is a list of requirements that you may be asked to address as part of your project review:
- Indigenous Engagement – Federal, Provincial, sometimes Municipal
- Community Engagement – Municipal, Regional
- Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) Amendment – Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley Regional District
- Official Community Plan (OCP) Amendment – Municipal
- Rezoning Bylaw Introduction – Municipal
- Rezoning Bylaw Approval – Municipal
- Community Amenity Contributions (CACs) – Municipal – Negotiated and paid with zoning
- Subdivision – Municipal (including registrations with Provincial Land Titles Office)
- Servicing Agreement – Municipal
- Highway Use Permit (HUP)
- Provincial – Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure (if within 800m of interchange) – Environmental Management Act – Provincial – Ministry of Environment (if site is contaminated)
- Water Sustainability Act (WSA) Authorization – Provincial – Forest Land and Natural Resource Organization (if impacting a stream)
- Riparian Area Regulation (RAR) Authorization – Provincial – Forest Land and Natural Resource Organization (if impacting a stream)
- Fisheries Authorization – Federal – Fisheries and Oceans Canada – If potential to impact fish or fish habitat
- Species at Risk Authorization (SARA) – Federal – Fisheries and Oceans Canada – If potential to impact species at risk
- Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) Act – Provincial – development on lands in the agricultural land reserve
- Development Permit – Streamside Protection and Environmental Areas – Municipal – protection of streams and riparian areas
- Development Permit – Form and Character – Municipal – approval of building form and character
- Development Permit Variance – To meet specific project requirements
- Soil Disposition Permit – Municipal – to enable adding and removing soil to a property
- Building Permit – Retaining Walls – Municipal – to permit structural walls
- Development Cost Charge (DCC) – Municipal – Paid prior to issuance of Building Permit
- Building Permit – Buildings – Municipal – authorizes construction
- Occupancy Permit – Buildings – Municipal – authorizes occupancy (issued once buildings as well as offsite work is complete to satisfaction of Municipal Engineer, MOTI, FLNRORD, others)