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Canada’s Small Municipalities Are Running Toward E-Permitting, Not Walking

June 29, 2021

Municipalities across Canada are adopting e-permitting at a fast pace, and the smaller municipalities are leading the way.

Jarkko Turtiainen, Vice President of Cloudpermit, North America, talked with Municipal World’s Sean Meyer, in the Municipal World Presents podcast.  

The episode, Growth of e-permitting accelerates across Canada, shed light on e-permitting's rapid growth and how it is mostly driven by small municipalities.  

“Right now, it’s [e-permitting] going across from the smallest [cities] to the largest...and the large ones are the slowest ones to move,” revealed Turtiainen.  

He explained that around 90% of Canada’s 3,700 municipalities are using paper as there has not been any digital options for small and mid-sized municipalities in the past in respect to cost and designed functionality.  

“So, if we look at Ontario three years ago, out of the 444 municipalities, there were probably about 20 using some sort of digital platform, not fully integrated with e-permitting,” Turtiainen said. “Right now, we’re looking at close to 25-30% of municipalities using actual e-permitting and in that sense, most of them are actually our clients as well.”

Canada’s e-permitting push has been municipal-led.

“I’m extremely happy with the pace Canada is going to digital platforms and e-permitting, but then I’d love to challenge the municipalities in Canada, why don’t we make it even faster, why don’t we do it quicker?” challenged Turtiainen.  

He reflected that, historically, it has only been the big cities that have been able to afford e-permitting and even those were unable to offer shared services to smaller municipalities.  

“A lot of municipalities right now are struggling to find inspectors or get staff on board, and by having a cloud-based solution, you can actually get the neighbouring municipalities working together and sharing all the information,” Turtiainen explained. “And what it also does is it actually standardizes the process across provinces in the country which is something that’s been lacking in the past.”

Turtiainen explained that shared services create an additional income for municipalities that can offer it and cut down on costs for municipalities who use it.  

When a municipality needs additional help, hiring more staff is no longer the only option as shared services offer a collaborative and cost-effective alternative.  

Not only does e-permitting create opportunities for local governments to work together, but it also benefits governments of all sizes with better service.  

The Town of Moosonee, a remote town in northern Ontario that is inaccessible by car and 16 hours from Toronto, has recently become one of Cloudpermit’s clients.  

Cloudpermit’s North American Vice President applauded small towns like Moosonee with populations less than 15,000 for providing better services to its citizens with e-permitting and challenged large cities to follow the lead of Canada’s small but mighty municipalities.  

“We’re happy to help anyone who wants [help], it doesn’t matter the size or the complexity that they think they have,” concluded Turtiainen. “I think we’ve got a solution for everyone.”

Listen to the Municipal World podcast to learn more e-permitting insights and please reach out if you have any questions.