Cumberland is looking at streamlining processes such as development approvals with the help of a grant.
At a recent meeting, manager of development services Courtney Simpson informed council about a grant opportunity through the Union of British Columbia Municipalities.
The Local Government Development Approvals Program could help Cumberland review and modernize processes for development projects within the village.The grant potentially can be used to help with communications, the application processes and improvements to the village’s information technology used to manage the process, with the aim being to save time for staff and improve service.
“We have good systems in place now that have served us well over the years, but things are getting more complicated, and development is picking up,” Simpson said. “It would be really important to have improved information technology for managing all this information.”
The maximum amount for which the village can apply is $500,000, and the program can fund all of the costs of the work to streamline approval processes.
“This is a really exciting opportunity,” Simpson said, adding staff had not determined the amount for the grant application.
Members of council were enthusiastic about the grant opportunity and the need to reduce the backlog of development applications.
“The changes that it’s going to make could be absolutely amazing,” said Mayor Leslie Baird. “I think the government also recognizes the pressure that we, as municipalities, are under with all the development that’s happening in the communities, especially the small communities.”
In 2019, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs began a review of development approvals processes, working with local governments and other stakeholders to identify challenges around current development approvals practices in the province and look for opportunities to improve efficiency.
Coun. Vicki Brown agreed the program looks like a great opportunity but wanted to know about the village’s capacity to apply for it. Simpson responded they do have some funding available for a consultant to help with applying for the grant while the grant itself could cover staff for managing the project.
“This looks like the best thing we’ve ever applied for,” said Coun. Sean Sullivan, who made a motion for the village to apply by the May 7 deadline. Council passed the motion unanimously.