District of Squamish aims to combat ‘build first ask permission later’ mentality with new surcharge

Initiating work in Squamish without a permit now comes with a costly consequence. The District of Squamish has introduced new surcharges for unauthorized building, land clearing or site alterations such as placement of fill. The surcharges reflect the important role the permit process plays in ensuring projects comply with the District’s environmental land use, hazard and community planning standards, as well as important provincial building safety standards.

“The ‘build first, ask for permission later’ mentality costs us all dearly through an erosion of our ability to uphold safety standards, community planning principles, and environmental protection standards, as well as through the immense amount of resources that are then allocated to investigate the infractions,” says District of Squamish Mayor Patricia Heintzman. “Developers and citizens who play this game do so at the expense of everyone else for their own gain; we’re appealing for this to stop.”

Under the new bylaw, unauthorized work may result in surcharges in addition to the permit application fee of between $1,000 and $5,000.

“When work proceeds without a permit, it requires our staff to spend time on investigation and enforcement of the infractions, thus further increasing the queue time for residents and developers who are playing by the rules,” says the District’s Director of Engineering Chris Wyckham. “In the wake of elevated levels of development, we have recently increased our staffing levels and queue times are decreasing, which we recognize had contributed to backlog. These surcharges reflect the considerable cost in staff time to process infractions where works have already begun in contravention of the bylaws."

The primary purpose behind issuing permits is to ensure that all buildings and land alteration works comply with safety, health, environmental, building and zoning requirements and to guarantee that the building is safe for future residents. For more information on permit applications, timelines, fees and inspections visit our website or call 604.815.5011.

February 23, 2017

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  • Nick Feb 26, 2017

    This is an actual problem in Squamish, but it would be helpful if the District reviewed its own permit requirements. The bylaw indicates that a site alteration permit is required if somebody gets a yard of gravel delivered to freshen up their driveway or soil for their garden. Ridiculous requirements that are never enforced weaken the integrity of the whole system. Revising the permit requirements is necessary if enforcement is going to become real (which it should!)

  • Peter Feb 25, 2017

    Fines help or in this case a surcharge. Better yet, when it comes down to occupancy if the authorities grant occupancy to buildings with a delay thats what will really put a stop to it. Hurts more not to open or occupy than it does for a surcharge.

  • yvon sevigny Feb 25, 2017

    What is the point of making new bylaws when you don't enforce it with actual fines delivered. Warnings doesn't solve anything, you need to deliver fines. This town is now growing too fast, getting out control !!!!

  • susan barry Feb 24, 2017

    i have taken out a door to a bathroom, drywalled the space, and put in a door on the other side of the bathroom - this affects no one, just makes it accessible from the laundry room more easily, and my neighbours and squamish council members are not affected ............ why do i need a permit?

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