Ontario Construction News staff writer
Challenges with recruiting and retaining staff are stretching London’s building department “to their limits” according to the city’s chief building official.
“Committee has heard me say before and I’ll say it again, that staff has been pushed to their limit,” Peter Kokkoros said, responding to questions at a recent planning and environment committee meeting. “This is very true, it still remains and while we have recently filled vacancies, we have done so with staff that require a significant amount of training.
“Like other municipalities, there is a shortage of fully qualified candidates.”
Also, Kokkoros says London is competing for staff with smaller municipalities for staff.
“As a result, we have experienced delays in permit issuance.”
According to a recent building report, the city has recorded a 19.7 per cent increase in building permit applications in the past year, he said, explaining the impact is particularly impacting related to mechanical systems and fire protection permits.
According to July statistics, 2,535 permits with a construction value of $854.3 million have been issued so far this year – a 19.7 per cent increase in the number of building permits over the same period in 2021.
“Working with (construction) industry I think it’s really important,” said Councillor Anna Hopkins. “We all want to get these permits out the door, so how we all work together is very important,” she says.
An online application system launched during the pandemic has caused issues with permits being submitted incorrectly or incomplete. Upgrades are planned to ensure applicants submit all required documents.
“It’s no secret that staff have been under a lot of strain, and we are hoping with some of these changes we can see some improvements,” Kokkoros said. “I should say there is light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t want to paint a doom and gloom picture, but . . . we’re getting there.”