St. Catharines mayor issues directive to remove barriers for planning applications

Ontario Construction News staff writer

St. Catharines Mayor Mat Siscoe has directed staff to adopt a “housing-focused” approach to the administration of the corporation. This direction includes implementing enhanced customer service protocols and expediting planning and development applications, while also acknowledging regulatory compliance as the core function for the City.

All city departments have also been instructed to prioritize development applications, specifically requests for comments on those applications, after council unanimously approved a housing strategy passed in early 2023. Departments have also been asked to identify and address any barriers or challenges that would delay a timely response as soon as possible.

Also, the city will adopt a “solutions-first lens” towards development applications, providing alternatives in all situations where roadblocks are encountered from a technical perspective. The goal is to speed up the application process and get residential and mixed-use development projects in front of Council quickly, working in collaboration with the development community while meeting all applicable policies and legislation.

“Advancing Housing Accelerator Fund initiatives is a top strategic priority for the corporation, and implementing an expedited approach to our planning process is the first step in creating more successful outcomes for housing development in our city,” Siscoe said in a statement. “This includes using federal funds to resolve a long-standing lack of development engineering services, expand our project expeditor program, and remove barriers to timely and thorough review of development applications.”

Priorities identified by the mayor include:

  • Implement customer service training, protocols, and directives for staff teams that interact with the development community to ensure expeditious return of inquiries (wherever possible in the manner they were received)
  • Create a reporting mechanism for Council that identifies key metrics and milestones for the processing of development applications, the timelines for meeting those milestones, and on-going opportunities for continuous improvement.
  • Track where delays are occurring in the development application process and the internal or external factors contributing to delays and notify the Office of the Mayor as soon as possible when these factors are impeding processing applications for significant developments.

To read the mayor’s declaration, click this link.


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