Edmonton has among the lowest civic costs, fastest approval times and best planning for new homebuilding in the country.| Submitted
Alberta’s biggest cities topped the rankings as the Ottawa-based Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) released its 2022 Municipal Benchmarking Study that examines how local development processes, approvals, and charges affect housing affordability and housing supply in major housing markets across the country.
Edmonton was ranked No. 1 out of 21 cities studied, while Calgary is No. 3. and Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg were all ranked among the top 10 for the speed of approvals and lower costs for development permits. Vancouver, in comparison, is ranked No. 12.
“Edmonton has a combined ranking of first across the three categories of approval timelines, government charges, and planning features. Helping Edmonton achieve this rank was receiving the best score of all 21 municipalities in planning features,” the study found.
“We’ve undertaken this work to showcase where municipal governments have the policies and systems in place to support supply and affordability, and to provide a path forward for improvements where things aren’t working as well,” said CHBA CEO Kevin Lee.
The CHBA found that the average cost of government charges levied by municipal governments on low-rise new housing development averages almost $62,000 per unit. Toronto is at the high-end of that, with per-unit government charges amounting to more than $189,000.
The average cost of government charges levied by municipal governments on high-rise new housing development averages more than $41,000 per housing unit.
Vancouver is at the highest end, with government charges amounting to more than $125,000 for a new high-rise condo apartment.
Edmonton’s typical government charges per housing unit are $29,359 for a low-rise new home and $6,559 for a high-rise condo.
Vancouver scored 76 per cent in the CHBA study. By comparison, Edmonton scored 91 per cent.
Vancouver’s average approval timeline for developments is 15.2 months, according to the CHBA. Compared to CHBA’s 2020 report, this wait has increased by roughly two months, said Ron Rapp, CEO of Homebuilders Association Vancouver.
Edmonton’s average permit approval time was 7.2 months, which was higher than second-place Charlottetown, at four months.
The data for the report was collected in the first quarter of last year, Rapp said. He added that in the intervening nine months, the City of Vancouver has been able to make further progress and is testing new ways of streamlining the approval process.
Cities that scored well in the report pair zoning reforms with off-the-shelf pre-approved designs, according to the CHBA. Rapp said that, as Vancouver continues to move forward with the Broadway Plan and other initiatives to revamp neighbourhoods, its current process of spot applications and spot rezoning will slow progress down.