Oakville joins call for Ontario to streamline and digitize development approvals process


Published October 21, 2021 at 11:28 am

The Town of Oakville is part of a coalition that has sent an open letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford asking him to lay the groundwork necessary for streamlining and digitizing the development approvals process.

AECO Innovation Lab, on behalf of the lobby group called the One Ontario coalition, is calling on the Ontario Premier to take immediate action to establish a Development Approval One Window Data and Information Exchange Standard.

The letter stated the coalition is representing the residential and ICI construction sector; mayors, administrators and building officials from every municipality; pertinent software providers; and various applicable law agencies and ministries.

“We need your leadership and support for the establishment of a Development Approval One Window Data and Information Exchange Standard that will lay the groundwork necessary for streamlining and digitizing the development approvals process,” the letter to Ford says.

“The One Ontario proposal is a tangible solution presented to the government by an unprecedented coalition of stakeholders who operate in this space, understand the problem and have researched best practices from around the world.”

One Ontario submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) in March that is aligned with the Simpler, Faster, Better Services Act.

The coalition says its still waiting for guidance, much less approval.

“With recovery underway and a critical ever-growing housing demand exceeding supply, there is an urgent need to act,” said the letter, which was written by Arash Shahi, Ph.D., P.Eng, PMP CEO of AECO Innovation Lab and Principal Researcher of One Ontario Initiative.

The coalition also pointed out that, according to the World Bank, Canada currently ranks 64th out of 190 countries in the world on development approval efficiency for routine building projects, and are behind the many jurisdictions that have taken innovative steps to modernize and digitize their systems.

“Research shows that streamlining and integrating the development approval process will result in up to a 70 per cent reduction in approval time to develop projects,” the letter stated.

The coalition writes that while some digitization of the building permit process is occurring in various Ontario municipalities, existing e-permitting platforms are siloed, fragmented and don’t take into consideration the up to 45 applicable law agencies involved in broader development approvals.

“While positive, this route is inefficient and incomplete in scope,” One Ontario said. “The fact is no single municipality can solve this problem on its own without provincial engagement and leadership.”

“Research shows that a top-down approach is necessary to implement impactful modernization,” the letter continues. “In our situation, this means a solution requires the support of the Ontario government.”

The letter states that as a successful businessman and leader of Canada’s economic powerhouse, Ford would understand innovation is time-sensitive and requires action.

That developers and builders are doing all they can, but are forced to deal with the current regulatory approvals process that is slow and lacks transparency or accountability for applicants.

Which is why they need Ford to “kick-start this critical step.”

“One Ontario’s proposal will lay the groundwork for a modern solution that will ensure Ontario remains a growing, economically robust, and innovative province,” the coalition said.

“It will also eliminate data silos, giving the government of Ontario the complete transparency and visibility that it needs to facilitate increased housing supply across Ontario.”

Along with the Town of Oakville, the One Ontario coalition also includes the City of Toronto, City of Windsor, Ontario Building Officials Association (OBOA), Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI), Ontario Home Builders Association (OHBA) and the Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) among others.



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