Opinion

As a matter of fact, City of Courtenay has trimmed staff

Dear editor,

In a recent letter to the editor (Record, Jan. 30), Andy MacDougall noted the decrease in new construction in the City of Courtenay from high values in the previous decade, and wondered whether staffing levels in the City building department have seen a corresponding reduction.

First, to clarify one of the figures used in Mr. MacDougall’s letter, the year with the highest construction value was actually 2006, with total construction values reaching $99,460,421.

At that time, the City had four building inspectors. The City made a conscious decision not to further increase the number of building inspectors during this building boom, predicting that the rise in construction values was cyclical and would decrease, potentially resulting in the need to lay off staff.

During the economic downturn in 2008, the number of inspectors decreased by two through attrition.

Today, we remain staffed with two building inspectors. There is only one other position in the building department.

Formerly a clerk, that role has now evolved to include plan-checking, in order to expedite the permit approval process. This department is also responsible for business licenses, including the new Inter-Community Business License Program, and assists with bylaw enforcement, among other duties.

The City is reviewing the development application process to ensure it is efficient and customer-friendly, and we have been speaking with the development community on this issue.

I recently attended a “Developer’s Breakfast” to meet with industry members, and look forward to continuing a dialogue with this diverse group.

We are seeking input on ways to improve communication  and educate developers on the application process and requirements to avoid unnecessary delays — further reducing demands on staff time and decreasing application wait times for all.

The lower construction values in 2013 represent a cyclical downturn, which means positive growth is on the horizon.

The pending construction of a new $334-million hospital will inject significant revenue into our community. An additional sign of confidence in our local economy is the 153 new residential subdivision lots created last year — the highest total since 2006.

I am confident that Courtenay is in a strong position for the years ahead.

David Allen, B.E.S., CLGEM

Editor's note: David Allen is the chief administrative officer for the City of Courtenay.

 

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