Costain Hagen of High Peak Framing of Red Deer works on a single family home on Carrington Drive in the Clearview Ridge subdivision in Red Deer on Wednesday.

Costain Hagen of High Peak Framing of Red Deer works on a single family home on Carrington Drive in the Clearview Ridge subdivision in Red Deer on Wednesday.

City stacks up well against competitors in home building survey

A study on home building red tape shows Red Deer is competitive with other communities, says the city’s planning department.

A study on home building red tape shows Red Deer is competitive with other communities, says the city’s planning department.

Of the communities surveyed by the Fraser Institute, the number of months it typically takes to get a project approved at city hall ranged from 6.1 months in Strathmore up to 15.1 months in Rocky View County. Red Deer falls in the middle at 7.3 months.

This city fares the best of all communities in the amount of time it takes to have rezoning approved at 0.8 months — less than a month. Rocky View County was tops at 14.7 months.

Tara Lodewyk, director of planning services, said she’s pleased how the city stacks up in the study, which was released earlier in the week.

“Overall, we’re still very competitive,” said Lodewyk, referencing the 7.3-month timeline.

It is unclear exactly how that number was determined, considering approval times vary so much depending on the type of development and the nature of the land involved, she said.

“If it’s a single-family (housing) permit, it’s not seven months, it’s a matter of weeks. But if it’s a complex urban development, it could be more than seven months.”

Lodewyk said the city routinely reviews its planning processes and various charges, and it understands that time is money to builders.

“We’re always reviewing our processes. We don’t wait for a study to tell us to do that.”

In a ranking of how hard a community is to build in, Red Deer ranked sixth of nine communities, Strathmore on top and Rocky View County at the bottom.

Fraser Institute drew its conclusions after surveying 32 developers in the Calgary-to-Edmonton corridor last fall.

Red Deer falls in the higher end of estimated regulatory compliance costs and fees per dwelling at $24,438. The lowest was Strathmore at $12,600 and the highest was Rocky View at $33,333. Rocky View is a rural municipality outside Calgary with a large percentage of luxury homes.

“We’re always taking feedback from the home builders and the developers.”

Guy Pelletier, regional vice-president for Melcor, said he was not surprised to see that approval times are rising across the province.

“Red Deer is likely not much different than most,” says Pelletier in an email.

“As a smaller city, we are fortunate to have good relationships in the industry, which can help resolve issues when they arise.

“The city seems to be making a real effort to work closely with the industry to focus on efficiency and compress timelines.”

The Fraser Institute concludes that there is a significant disparity in how home builders and developers experience regulations across the corridor.

“We find that reported approval timelines, and how they are affected by the rezoning process, vary significantly across cities.”

The institute plans to continue its research and measure the experiences in communities nationwide, with the goal of identifying where regulations put a burden on the housing market and where it appears to more efficient.

“Continued measurement will help us understand the role of public policy in Canada’s urban landscape.”

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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