Tillsonburg will move its building permit process online

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The Town of Tillsonburg will moving into ‘next generation’ territory with new e-Permitting software system designed to move its building application process online.

Peter Rotenberg from Cloudpermit gave a presentation to Council at its Nov. 23 virtual meeting providing an overview of the Cloudpermit software.

Rotenberg said Cloudpermit set out over the past 10 years to build the best digital e-Permitting software for local governments across the world.

The European company entered the Canadian market a couple years ago. Since then, more than 30 Ontario municipalities adopted the Cloudpermit software – more than any other software system being used to deliver digital services to the public via building permits, he said.

“Recently we also signed a partnership agreement with the Ontario Building Officials Association to basically become their recommended e-Permitting solution for municipal building departments across the province,” said Rotenberg, noting that was in recognition of working not just with the biggest cities, but also smaller municipalities.

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Industry challenges for e-Permitting solutions are ‘it is very expensive, it takes a long time to set up, and it is highly customized.’

“That’s really kept it out of reach for most municipalities. Before we came along, there was less than 20 municipalities in the province where a citizen could go online and apply for and pay for a building permit.”

Cloudpermit changed that, he said.

“The way we get this done is we built and out-of-the-box software platform.”

That means it was built specifically for the Ontario building permit market, said Rotenberg.

“That really means it works the day you buy it for the most part.

“What we’re really looking to do with our system in Tillsonburg is really improve two areas. One is optimizing customer service. So with the advent of e-Permitting and digital permitting, clients will now have access 24-7, 365 days a year to the Tillsonburg building department. That’s because this system is available online at any time.

“The second big area we’re trying to improve is just efficiencies within the building department,” said Rotenberg. “One thing our system does very well is basically we are able to provide the applicants the ability to figure out the exact requirements their building application are, so Geno (VanHaelewyn’s) team is spending a lot more reviewing complete, acceptable applications instead of kind of babysitting applicants through that application process.

“What we see out of this is, by fixing just this one process, cities are able to issue building permits… faster. We found this in our largest clients, like the City of Windsor and some of our smallest.”

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Coun. Deb Gilvesy asked whether it was good for all types of permits, from single family dwellings up to planned subdivisions.

Rotenberg confirmed the software would be suitable for ‘mom and pop builders’ as well as a production builder who would be planning a subdivision or commercial/industrial project.

“Is it mandatory for all building permits to go through your system?” asked Deputy Mayor Dave Beres.

“That’s a common concern,” said Rotenberg, noting the building department can still take ‘over the counter’ permits using the traditional process.

“What we find is about after three months, about 80 per cent of the applications are coming in online.”

That number slowly edges up to 90 to 95 per cent online applications after one year, he added.

“But there is still a pathway for people who might not own a computer or are just not comfortable using the process to apply in the traditional manner.”

Council voted to authorize Geno Vanhaelewyn, the Town’s chief building official, to proceed with the single source award for the purchase and implementation of the Cloudpermit e-Permitting software to be funded from building permit reserves.

Vanhaelewyn said there is a $20,000 annual fee based on usage.

He said the town will work in partnership with Cloudpermit to ‘inform and educate the public on the new e-Permitting system.’

cabbott@postmedia.com