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Streamlining access to government

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by Warren Frey

BizPal is an initiative by the federal government that streamlines the permit and licensing process by taking it online.
Streamlining access to government

Floating BizPal in Kamloops

PCL uncertain if new program will speed up permits and licensing process

Staff Writer

A new online government program is being greeted with indifference by the construction industry, including PCL.

BizPal is an initiative by the federal government that streamlines the permit and licensing process by taking it online.

Entrepreneurs answer a series of questions on what kind of business they want to start and operate, and the activities related to that business. BizPal then generates a list of all required permits and licenses for all three levels of government, and links to government sites containing information about those permits and in some cases online application forms.

The BizPal program was launched in Whitehorse at the end of last year, and was implemented in Kamloops last week. But while the program may benefit some businesses, the attitude in the construction industry seems to be a resounding “huh?”

PCL is one of the larger firms working in Kamloops. The company recently completed the first phase or “skeleton” of an 11-storey student residence at Thompson Rivers University and is preparing to start on a $8.5-million Open Learning Institute (OLI).

The BizPal program wouldn’t have helped streamline the building process on the highrise, nor is it expected to help on the OLI, said Ralph Herten, project manager for PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc.

“The permits we have to get as builders are more or less common knowledge. By the time we build, development permits are already in place, and a lot of permits are pursued by sub contractors, so it isn’t a problem for us,” Herten said.

In fact, Herten hadn’t even heard of the BizPal program. And subcontractors seem to be as unaware of the program as larger-scale firms.

The BizPal program was rolled out in December 2005 in Whitehorse, but Yukon Contractors Association president Mike Johnston also had no knowledge of the program.

“It’s really not a big issue here. We’ve only got two levels of government. If you want to build in Whitehorse, you deal with the municipality, and anything outside of that goes to the Yukon government,” Johnston said.

He added that other than a building permit, a development permit, and submission of drawings, there wasn’t much more in the way of permits to deal with.

A far bigger issue for Yukon developers and builders is the “onerous” environmental review process, Johnston said.

And the unique nature of the Yukon as a territory means that in Whitehorse, there is no land to develop, he said. Since the Yukon government owns all vacant land, there are no private developers in the city, and hence no land to develop.

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