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Centre Wellington to hire new building official due to ‘unprecedented’ growth

by Mike Robinson

ELORA - “Unprecedented” growth in Centre Wellington has led council to hire another building official to keep up.

Council noted the growth will pay for the position, as the building department is 100 per cent funded through revenues generated through items such as building permits.

In his July 24 report to council, Centre Wellington’s chief building official Randy Bossence stated the “building division of the planning and development department continues to see unprecedented building permit and inspection activity.”

In addition to substantial construction and permit activity across most construction sectors, the new Groves hospital project will be constructed over the next two to three years, which will require substantial building division resources. 

Bossence said in the first six months of 2017 the building department issued 510 building permits, with a total construction value of $82,990,592. 

In the first six months of 2016, 441 permits were issued for projects valued at $74,797,135.

Bossence noted permits issued in the first six months of 2017 included:

  • - construction of a new manufacturing facility in Fergus for Wellington Perforated valued at  $2.5 million;
  • - construction of a new poultry barn in former Pilkington Township, $1.2 million;
  • - installation of site services for the future Groves hospital, $880,000; and
  • - renovations within the former Target building in Fergus to create a Mark’s Work Warehouse, $850,000.     

Bossence noted the increased permits and construction resulted in an increased workload for the building department, including increased inspections conducted pursuant to the Ontario Building Code.

The first six months of 2017 included 2,717 Building Code inspections, compared to 1,788 inspections for the first six months of 2016.

Bossence added those numbers did not include additional bylaw enforcement inspections undertaken by the department.

Bossence recommended the immediate hiring of a permanent full-time building official.

He noted that over the past few years, the township utilized contract positions to maintain service levels to meet provincially-mandated time frames for permit issuance and inspections while experiencing a constantly increasing workload.

He stated construction activity has increased substantially in Centre Wellington over the past three years in particular.

“It is expected that this trend will continue well into the future, given the township’s expected growth targets,” said Bossence.

He added that given the continued increase in year over year building permit and inspection activity, hiring a new building official is the most appropriate course of action.

He anticipated that 2017 will set a new record for the highest amount of construction activity within the township.

Looking forward, he expected the construction activity will continue to increase with new residential developments (subdivisions) coming on line, the activity that Pearle Hospitality is generating and will be generating on both sides of the river, the construction of the new hospital, etc. 

The hospital construction will be commencing very soon and it is anticipated that Pearle Hospitality will be commencing construction on the south side of the river in 2018. 

“These major projects require substantial staff time and resources to fulfill the township’s legislative obligations,” said Bossence.

Financial implications

Bossence noted building division revenues exceed the year-to-date budget amount and are expected to exceed the 2017 budget amount substantially by the end of the year. He noted the proposed permanent full-time building official position would be fully funded by department revenues and have no impact on tax revenue. 

Building permit fees for the new Groves hospital project alone will be approximately $360,000 - more than enough to cover the new position.

The “building official III” 2017 salary range is expected to be $73,348 to $86,358 plus benefits ($22,608 based on 2017 job rate).

Bossence added a vehicle would need to be purchased using funds from the building division reserve fund.

Councillor Stephen Kitras said with the large amount of building department reserves perhaps it was time to reconsider building permit fees.

Bossence said he is always reviewing fees - especially for larger projects - to ensure they make sense.

“As we go into the budget process for 2018, the fees will be reviewed carefully as well,” he said.

When further questioned by Kitras, Bossence agreed the department reserves cannot continue to increase year after year.

“We are going to look at how we are going to deal with that,” he said.

But, he added, the issue must be viewed as a whole with both revenues and expenditures.

“The last thing you want to do is put the fees down, then realize they were put down too low - then have to raise them again. We want to do it right,” said Bossence.

Council subsequently agreed to hire an additional building official.

August 11, 2017

 
 

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