Prior to submitting an application, being aware of the existing land-use and policy framework of your community is an important first step to planning a new development or renovating an existing building. From the initial stage of identifying a property, through to the design and construction, your local government’s approval process will have a significant impact on the timing and cost of the development. Meeting with a local planner can help in analyzing requirements and developing a strategy to meet the requirements or to amend them to better suit the needs of the development and future occupants.
Learning more about the goals and objectives of the Official Community Plan, zoning bylaws, technical reviews and public consultation will assist in providing a realistic assessment of the time and effort involved in achieving your development vision. Below are nine key steps in the process.
- Provincial Legislative Framework
At a provincial level, each province and territory establishes its own building codes, which are modelled after National Building Code, Fire Code and Plumbing Code. They define how to construct safe, durable and reliable structures. These codes must be applied to new construction and renovation, as well as commercial and residential construction. They can be adopted as they are or modified to meet local needs. Once adopted, these codes become legal regulations for construction. Understanding these building codes upfront will help streamline your planning and approval process.
- Municipal Framework and Zoning Bylaws
At a Municipal level, there is an Official Community Plan (OCP) that incorporates the vision and framework for the future land use and development of the area. Provinces require the local governments, to develop an OCP. Regina’s OCP, Design Regina, is a long-term plan that provides direction for managing future growth, development and change in the community to a future population of 300,000 residents and beyond. The OCP contains a comprehensive policy framework that will guide the physical, environmental, economic, social and cultural development of Regina.
Each municipality will have zoning bylaws. Zoning outlines the designated permitted use of land based on mapped zones. For example, a site may be zoned industrial or residential, or a mix. Zoning bylaws stipulate things such as minimum and maximum density, size and height allowed on the site. Zoning bylaws are approved by City Council, and can only be changed by City Council. Depending on the application and the municipality, the zoning amendment process can take up to one year.
Reviewing Official Community Plans and zoning bylaws will help to estimate how well the building development and design concept will fit within the goals and objectives established by the community.
- Development Application & Concept Plan
When you are ready to proceed, a development application will need to be submitted to The City. The City has various applications based on the type of development and you will want to ensure that the correct application is being used. It is important to consult with the approval authority at the beginning of the planning process, ensure all the necessary information is included for a complete application. It will help ensure a timely consideration of the application. Along with the completed application form, the submission will need to include a set of drawings that show how the proposed building will be situated on the property and a conceptual design.
The application will be reviewed by several departments and there may be additional questions, meetings for clarification or plan revisions. Depending on the application, there may be a Council appointed planning advisory committee for the review and provide advice to Council on planning issues.
- Public Consultation
Public consultations may be required in the development application process, to allow neighbourhood concerns brought forward. The public process may vary depending on the application and if there are minor or major alterations to the bylaw. For more complex applications or proposed zoning bylaw changes, the information will be posted for the public to be informed prior to the bylaw approvals. In addition, a public hearing may be required prior to Council voting. These public meetings are an opportunity for both the public and the Developer, to share their view.
- Development Report and Recommendation
Council will receive a report on the application including a recommendation and an outline of the requirements that need to be satisfied. At this meeting, Council will decide if the application is approved or if additional conditions are required.
- Development Approval
The length of the development approval process is dependent upon the complexity of the project and the preparedness of the applicant. Once approval has been granted, a development permit will be issued and it will stipulate a time period in which development must start as well as next steps – such as acquiring a building permit if required.
- Subdivision Plan and / or Construction Drawings
Many municipalities require both a development permit and a building permit, including City of Regina. The building permit application will require at least two sets of plans that include the site design, site drainage, and servicing request. In addition, building plans must include architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical drawings that are stamped by an architect or engineer. These drawings are used in the approval process to ensure compliance with zoning and development bylaws, building and fire codes, site servicing and infrastructure.
- Building Permit Application and Approval
It is very important to include all the information in the Building Permit Application in order for the application to be processed without delay. The length of the approval process will vary and can be dependent on the complexity of the project. Try to stay informed of any delays and be prepared to answer questions in a timely way to help expedite the approval process and to be aware of any impacts to your project plan.
Once the Building Permit is approved (along with the Development Application), construction can begin!
- City of Regina Applying for a Building Permit. Retrieved October 14, 2016. http://www.regina.ca/residents/building-demolition/build-on-property/apply-building-permit/
- Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation: Local Planning Process and Approvals. Retrieved October 14, 2016. https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/inpr/afhoce/afhoce/tore/hodefashch/upload/local_planning_EN.pdf
- Saskatchewan Ministry of Municipal Affairs. A Guide to Municipal Planning Process in Saskatchewan, August 2011. Saskatchewan Ministry of Municipal Affairs. Retrieved October 14, 2016. https://www.saskatchewan.ca/~/media/files/government%20relations/community%20planning/community-planning-process.pdf