Penticton looks to cut permit fees

Report compares Penticton's fees to other municipalities across the province

Building permit prices in Penticton may be dropping in the new year, as the city does a comprehensive evaluation of the current rates, comparing them to other communities.

According to Anthony Haddad, director of development services, the development service advisory committee asked city staff to review all the city’s fees and charges, including development cost charges and building permit fees.

“At the last meeting, we brought back our building permit fees and showed comparisons with other municipalities in terms of our fees and fee structures,” said Haddad. “That identified that we were fairly high compared to other municipalities.”

That report compared Penticton to not only municipalities in the Okanagan but across B.C. According to Haddad, the discrepancy in Penticton’s fees comes from a five per cent across-the-board increase to all city fees in 2010.  Building permit fees aren’t a flat rate, Haddad explained, but are rather set per $1,000 of construction value.

“That five per cent increase has probably had a bigger impact than it would on a flat fee; as that dollar value gets multiplied per every $1,000 of construction value.”

City council took the recommendation of the development services committee and directed Haddad and city staff to come up with a revised fee structure that will be competitive with surrounding communities.

Haddad said they will not only be looking at the value of the building permit fees, but the structure that is used to apply them. While Penticton has a single structure for building permit fees, some communities use a sliding scale based on the size of the project, moving up or down depending on the value of the construction. Larger projects, Haddad said, mean a different level of involvement and work from city staff.

“Typically, municipalities don’t get as involved in those larger projects where professionals are on board, architects, engineers and the professionals,” said Haddad. “It’s more of a monitoring process we do on those larger projects, than the inspections we do on the single-families and those smaller types of developments.”

Haddad hopes to have a review of the building permit fees and recommendations back to council in early December. City staff is also putting together comparisons of development cost charges, which should also be ready for the advisory committee in the next few weeks.