The process improvement team creates and supports customer service improvements for the department.
Key initiatives by year
April - June:
- Completed launch of new public notice signs for variances and conditional uses. The updated design includes:
- City of Winnipeg branding
- images of the development to help illustrate the proposed change
- website link and QR code to direct residents to more information
- plain language description of the development application
- Streamlined the demolition permit process for residential buildings:
- enabled residential demolition permits with no building permits to be processed by the Public Service (versus going to a Public Hearing)
- helped residential demolition permit applicants to appeal Public Service decisions
January - March:
- Launched the Licensed demolition contractor program in January 2023
- Extended the Temporary Patio Requirements program for another year, allowing restaurants and licensed manufacturers with tasting rooms (breweries, micro distilleries, etc.) to have temporary patio spaces in summer and winter
- Launched self-service forms for residents to report questions and concerns and get connected to the department instead of contacting 311
- Expanded Permits Online to include development permits for one and two-family, multi-family, and non-residential permit applications. We also created a more streamlined way to help applicants get through the process.
- Added new information to building and renovating web pages to update information on permitting requirements
- Introduced a Development Policy Search tool that allows applicants to search an address and learn if bylaws, regulations or guidelines apply to a development location (mature community, Designated Floodway Fringe Area, waterway, etc.)
- Launched an improved phone system to connect customers with the right staff members to discuss development, building, trade permits, and inspections
- Aligned the permit process with provincial Bills 37 and 38, including application forms, bulletins, brochures, and new web content
- Created a web page about the Floodway Fringe Area Regulation
- Continued to offer the Temporary Patio Requirements program, allowing restaurants and licensed manufacturers with tasting rooms (breweries, micro distilleries, etc.) to have temporary patio spaces in summer and winter
- Published the following bulletins to define code requirements for arc-fault protection and changes to the 2021 Canadian Electrical Code and City of Winnipeg amendments and technical interpretations: Clarification of Arc Fault Circuits Bulletin and 2022 Winnipeg Electrical By-Law PowerPoint Presentation Bulletin
- Streamlined Winnipeg Electrical By-law requirements for solar photovoltaic systems to reduce red tape and processing time
- In consultation with industry, published the Helical, Augured and Screw Piles in Commercial Applications Bulletin
- Updated requirements for occupancy permits to align with Manitoba Building Code. The department no longer requires building occupancy permits for a change in tenant/occupant only.
- Continued to offer the Temporary Patio Requirements program, an expedited process to allow for restaurants and licensed manufacturers with tasting rooms (breweries, micro distilleries, etc.) to establish temporary patio spaces in summer and winter.
- Implemented an improved customer service phone system for housing inspections to offer automated call-back services and redirect functionality for general inquiries
- To assist customers submitting permit applications digitally, intake services were reviewed, including submission of digital applications posting of website updates, and reporting of intake queue times
- Implemented a one-year permit amnesty program to encourage homeowners to declare projects started or completed without permits, and have the work inspected for compliance with applicable codes, by-laws, and safety standards.
- Bulletins were issued to provide customers with more information about building code compliance:
- Vapour Barrier and Insulation Installations and Applications in Housing Inspections
- Structure Shop Drawing Submissions
- Permit Requirements for Sprinkler and Standpipe Installations in Existing Building
- Landscape Lighting
- Piloted a Plan Approvals Compliance Program to proactively work with permit holders to address instances of potential non-compliance with plan approvals earlier in the construction process.
- Updated website to include information about expiry terms for major home-based businesses, which require Conditional Use approval. Major home-based business owners began receiving auto-reminders when approvals approached an expiry date. (Both initiatives addressed feedback obtained through the City's Red Tape Initiative).
- Launched a single inspector program pilot (one call-out) with the commercial inspections team for Occupy Only permits where no building, mechanical, electrical, or plumbing alterations were proposed.
- Launched the Residential Mechanical Photo Submission program for licenced electrical contractors who install air conditioners, gas or electric furnaces, or electric hot water tanks. This housing inspections team initiative allows contractors to submit specific photographs of their installation, along with required documentation, to satisfy the inspection process.
- Expedited the process for the intake, review and inspections of personal care homes and visitation rooms. The commercial permits team worked with Shared Health and the City's fire prevention team on this solution.
- Expanded the use of the Municipal By-law Enforcement Act, resulting in:
- Improved processing time
- Reduced number of matters that require Provincial Court proceedings
- Reduction of Standing Policy Appeals
- Improved Compliance timeframes
- Specific types of Variance Approvals (referred to as ‘C’ Variances) became managed administratively, resulting in reduced approval timeframes, while maintaining the appeal process for the applicant. Additionally, QR codes were added to posters for Variances ‘C’s, allowing the public to view full details through an electronic device.
- Launched commercial inspections customer survey to support continuous improvement activities. Following the completion of an inspection, one in 10 customers were contacted by the commercial inspections clerk for a follow-up on customer experience and ideas for ongoing improvement. Two surveys were conducted:
- Launched digital processing of residential & commercial development permits that are applied for independently from building permits. (Development permits applied for concurrently with building permits are already reviewed and issued electronically). Please visit the Digital Permit Applications webpage for more information.
- Launched online commercial building and trade permit inspections. By completing the Commercial Inspection Request Form, information is digitally forwarded to schedulers to coordinate and confirm appointment times. This initiative was an important first step in providing the necessary data to support the development of a more automated self-service inspection appointment booking system in the future.
- Launched the Temporary Patio Requirements program. The program offers an expedited process to allow for restaurants and licensed manufacturers with tasting rooms (breweries, micro distilleries, etc.) to establish temporary patio spaces in summer and winter.
- Created an Information Bulletin describing Guidelines for Buildings Used for Temporary Overnight Shelters.
- Launched the Alternate Video Inspections program to provide service during COVID-19 while ensuring the safety of residents, contractors and employees. The housing inspections branch uses informational drawings, photos and a smart phone with Google Duo video conferencing to satisfy the inspection process for occupied residential inspections.
- Enhanced Permits Online service to offer more permit applications. These improvements enable homeowners to apply for the new construction of accessory structures, including decks, detached garages, outdoor pools, hot tubs/spas, carports, and other structures more than 10 m2 (108 sq. ft.).
- As part of enhanced Permits Online service, customers are provided with an opportunity to provide feedback on their application experience. Permits Online videos also educate customers.
- Launched digital processing of commercial building permits. Digital Permit Applications are available for all residential and commercial building permit applications.
- Launched Permits Direct Line, a call management system that provides more efficient access to permits, inspections and zoning customer service. Permits Direct Line directs customer inquiries to dedicated staff members in various disciplines.
- Launched the Interim Commercial Inspections Strategy to provide a more efficient process to service customers requiring commercial building, plumbing and mechanical inspections. This strategy prioritized major projects for commercial inspections by the City, while projects not deemed to be complex were kept moving through the inspection process by enabling acceptance of progress reports, professional certifications, and licensed contractor declarations.
- Expanded Permits Online to include Occupancy Permit features resulting in a fully digital process.
- Published permit application processing times for initial complete review times against targets that have been set in collaboration with industry. We successfully met these targets on all streams of building permits. Success has been attributed to a focus on tracking, management tools and digital processing.
- Launched a permit intake triage system for general residential permits to reduce customer wait time during peak periods, and an appointment program was established for customers requesting professional advice on zoning matters.