London Inc. May 2024 - 6

Moving forward
The City of London continues to advance initiatives
to modernize the building approval process, helping
to reduce barriers and encourage investment
CEO, London
Home Builders'
FOR MANY YEARS now a culture of risk
aversion has grown in building divisions
in cities across Ontario and Canada, with
the City of London as no exception. This
is not to blame any building staff but
rather to identify the growing challenges
that an ever-expanding building code has
presented, causing customer service to
fall in priority while staff tries to ensure
they don't miss anything when reviewing
Unfortunately, as a result of this, we
have seen first-hand the time it takes to
receive a permit get delayed. Whether for
an apartment building, a new single-family home, a renovation
or even a new deck, permits were taking on average 43.3
days at the end of last year to be issued. To put this timeline
into context, municipalities in Ontario are legislated to issue
or refuse permits with full reasons for denial within 10 days for
single-family homes.
However, hope is on the horizon! We are fortunate to have
City of London deputy manager Scott Mathers working to
right the ship by actively supporting his staff team, helping to
renew a strong culture of customer service, and strengthening
partnerships with our industry and homeowners. And we are
already seeing progress towards solutions. Recognizing the
need for additional managers in the division, we now have
two managers of plans examinations and two managers of
inspections, where previously there were only one for each.
And, with new management in place, average permit timelines
have decreased from an average of 43.3 days to 33.3 days.
While we are still some ways away from the ideal of 10 days for
single-family homes, this is a significant improvement with the
hope of other recent changes helping get us even closer to that
Another major positive change we have seen is the return of
the ability for the public to engage with staff at City Hall. When
6 | Signature Homes & Renovations | MAY 2024
the Covid pandemic hit, face-to-face interaction at City Hall
was not possible. Industry and the broader community faced
many challenges as the ability to simply come in and have a
conversation with relevant staff was no longer an option and
communication became much more challenging and slower.
Over a two-year period, the LHBA persisted in requesting a
return of a physical presence at City Hall, which we were finally
successful in. This resulted in the creation of a new planning,
building and licensing customer service counter at City Hall
aptly titled Path2Approval, as well as the return of building and
planning staff to City Hall full time beginning in April. The aim
of the new Path2Approval counter, located on the second floor
and accessible to the public, is to provide in-person support for
residents, businesses and industry partners with their planning,
building and licensing applications and inquiries. In the words
of Deputy City Manager Scott Mathers, " The changes to the
new space are an exciting first step in our enhanced customer
service experience improvement roll out. "
The second exciting change is the recent introduction of a
new role in the Building Division called the building connector.
The purpose of this role is to enhance building permit processing
and customer service efforts. It is designed to provide
technical expertise in building code matters and technology
assistance, all with a strong focus on customer service. Acting
as a central point of contact for the largest builders in the City
of London, the building connector will facilitate smoother
communication, expedite approval processes and address any
challenges that may arise during the permit application process.
The goal of this new role is to help streamline processes
and enable much more capacity for all other building division
staff, so they can more quickly address permits and hopefully
see the average of 33.3 days move closer and closer to 10.
With the strong leadership of Scott Mathers supporting his
team and the help of new management within the building
division, we are already seeing a strong move towards 'yes' and
an enhanced customer service experience with hope for more
improvement on the horizon.

London Inc. May 2024

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