BY JEAN SORENSEN - The City of Revelstoke has launched an initiative aimed at cleaning up expired building permits and saving itself a hefty legal bill.
It is also waiving the eight per cent fee charged on the remaining construction project value, said Dean Strachan, the city’s manager of development services.
However, individuals still need to come in and renew the permit.
Strachan said the decision was made after the city discovered that it had up to 300 outstanding building permits for a mix of developments that included residential, commercial and industrial structures.
The city’s building permits are valid for two years.
These permits in the backlog file date from 2011 back but would include some from 2012.
“This is for work that someone began, but was not completed,” he said.
“We are providing an opportunity for people to come in and address this.”
He said the city estimates it will lose about $25,000 in permit renewal fees alone, but will save on a significant legal bill and staff time.
The city is obligated to register a notice on the land title that work was not completed, he said.
This signals to anyone purchasing that building that the work has either not been done or not inspected.
But, before a notice is placed on the title, it requires council approval and the building owner must have the opportunity to appeal before council.
Strachan said he estimated the legal cost of registering notices against the titles could be between $500,000-$600,000.
Plus, he said there is the time spent tracking down building owners and preparing documents for council.
He estimated that only 30-40 outstanding permits could be dealt with in a year.
“It’s a lot easier to have the people come in during the one-year (grace) period than to register a notice on their title,” he said.
Strachan said he had not heard of another city carrying out a similar program.
“The request for the program came from a local resident,” he said, adding he’s heard of other municipalities hiring extra staff but that comes with an added cost.
Strachan said the program is too new to determine whether it was working.
The city is hopeful it would clear up the backlog of expired permits, lead to more construction activity and also increase taxes for new construction.