Erin council approves e-permit pilot project for building applications

ERIN – In hopes of reducing wait times and creating a more streamlined process for building applications, council here has approved the town’s involvement in an e-permit piloting project.

In a June 30 meeting, council authorized staff to proceed with the involvement in the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) pilot project with Cloudpermit, including the implementation of the Cloudpermit E-Permitting Software.

Council also approved that staff commit to the pilot project, and that $14,000 ($12,500 for the pilot plus $1,500 implementation fee) be sourced from the building department revenue fund reserve.

If the contract is not terminated three months prior to the end of the initial 12-month term, the contract will automatically renew for a five-year term at an expected annual cost of $25,000 to maintain service with the Cloudpermit system once the pilot concludes, the report to council noted. 

“An online building permit portal is an important step to better serve owners, builders, developers in the community and this pilot project offers a new opportunity to improve our building permit application process in the Town of Erin,” said Jack Krubnik, director of planning and development. 

In June of 2021 AMO announced a project with MPAC to identify a preferred digital provider of electronic building permits and in January, Cloudpermit was announced as the successful candidate, he explained.  

“The joint project was to identify an integrated e-permitting system that could provide a one-stop shop for building permit,” Krubnik said, which includes permit applications and review, inspections, communications with applicants, payment processing, data storage and coordination with MPAC. 

“The goal for participating municipalities is this e-permitting system is to offer a complete solution for building permits,” he added. 

Cloudpermit is an international e-permitting company and, through a vetting process conducted by AMO and MPAC, was determined to be an e-permit solution that can digitize the building permit process to reduce costs, improve customer experience and increase efficiency.

In reading the report, Mayor Allan Alls said the pilot is a good use of technology that will hopefully expedite the building permit process for the town. 

“I think this is really a step in the right direction for us and I think this will provide efficiencies going forward,” councillor John Brennan agreed.

However, he took issue with the renewal provision which noted if the town hasn’t singled any problems by the nine-month mark, then it will automatically renew for a five-year term at $25,000 a year.

“Let’s say for the sake of argument we decide that this is not for us, are there penalties or anything for not renewing past the one year?” Brennan asked. 

“It’s our intention to be actively monitoring the success of this permitting software so that six or nine months out we feel good, comfortable about it and we can communicate that to council as well if council desires,” Krubnik responded. 

“I think the nine-month period will give us a very solid look of the function of the permitting system.”

He noted the pilot program is for building permits specifically and doesn’t take into consideration the current planning process. 

“Anything that requires a building permit application will be done through Cloudpermit and so it will reduce essentially a lot of the kind of admin functions related to booking inspections, back and forth dialogue with applicants, perhaps some of the delays as well,” he explained. 

“So it’s meant to streamline that kind of admin function, the front end of it, and to make it clearer and a more straightforward process for applicants.”