Manitoba

Building permit wait times unreasonable, says Winnipeg homeowner

A Winnipeg homeowner is frustrated with the city’s planning, property and development department. Timothy Dean applied for a permit to build a sunroom on the back of his house last March and is still waiting.

Timothy Dean has been waiting more than a year for the city to issue him a permit to build a sunroom

Timothy Dean has been waiting more than a year for the city to issue him a permit to build a sunroom

7 years ago
Duration 0:59
A Winnipeg homeowner is frustrated with the city's planning, property and development department. Timothy Dean applied for a permit to build a sunroom on the back of his house last March and is still waiting.

A Winnipeg homeowner is frustrated with the city's planning, property and development department. Timothy Dean applied for a permit to build a sunroom on the back of his house last March and is still waiting.

"This is just a small deal. I'm not building a new house, I'm just building a small sunroom that none of my neighbours have a problem with," said Dean.
Timothy Dean says he went ahead and started building the sunroom because he couldn't wait for the city any longer. He applied for a building permit in March of 2015. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

Dean is renovating a character home in Crescentwood and has applied for eight to ten permits over the last ten years. He says the one he took out to build a garage and mudroom nine years ago didn't take nearly as long.

"I think it's totally unreasonable. The [expected wait] times they give you when you start applying are a lot already," he said.

The city says it monitors wait times for permits and that meeting the targets depends on how complete the application is, but those wait times are generally not longer than 30 days.

"If the application is complete and compliant, the permit is issued at that time. However, if there is a requirement for additional information or changes to the submitted plans due to a lack of code or zoning compliance, the permit application is put on hold as we await a response from the applicant," a city spokesperson said in an email.

Dean says he's been going back and forth with the city over blueprints and plans for more than a year and says the city always needs something else. He says his application has been passed back and forth between departments and staff and most of the time the city does not return his calls or emails.

"I must have done two or three emails just in the last two weeks, and two or three phones calls and none of them were returned. And I'm now at the point where I'm just ready to give up completely," he said.
Dean says he has submitted numerous documents to the city in the last year, and had an engineer sign off on the project, but has not yet had his permit issued. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

The city admits that there has been an increase in wait times over the past few months, which they say is due to unprecedented growth in volumes.

The city says changes to the building codes on April 1 have also put more strain on city resources as there are now more items to be checked. The city also says there have also been some problems with incomplete applications as the industry adjusts to the changes.

Dean isn't going to wait any longer and has started building the sunroom. He has worked as a contractor for 30 years and is confident it will pass any inspection.

"I kinda just gave up. I built it. I framed it, it can still inspected but I haven't got further with the permits," he said.

Winnipeg has some of the oldest houses in Canada

Dean would like to see the permit process streamlined for people who are doing major renovations.

"It's super frustrating because you have a lot of things with an old house, and you're supposed to be bringing it up to new code and that's going to be very difficult," he said.

Dean says for as many permits as he has taken out he probably could have applied for six or seven more, but didn't want to deal with the hassle.
Timothy Dean says many homeowners will skip the permit process because of the time it takes to apply and get the city to approve it. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

"I think there should be some sort of thing a homeowner can get, just a one time permit that says I'm renovating this big old house and the city would say 'ok'," said Dean.

John Orlikow, chair of  planning, property and development for the city says he is aware of the struggles that homeowners face when taking on a renovation of an older home. He says he would like to see something done to make the process simpler.

"Winnipeg has the second or third oldest housing stock in Canada. I think it would be a good idea to look at the process and come up with some better ideas," said Orlikow.

Dean says it isn't about the cost for him and that he is just trying to do things the right way.

"I just want my permit. I don't want to talk to [the city] anymore, I don't want to deal with them. I just want to be done dealing with them for this one small sunroom," he said.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now