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E-Permitting Can Help Ontario Manage During the Provincial Lockdown

Municipal Offices, Ontario

January 19, 2021

When Ontario declared its second provincial emergency and lockdown beginning January 14, 2021, many Ontarians were left wondering what to do next. In the building industry, there was a slight sigh of relief as the majority of construction projects are allowed to continue. This relief also left many speculating: what does this mean for building permit processes if construction can continue during a lockdown?

It means traditional paper-based processes are more difficult, time-consuming, and stressful because they require paper, in-person staff presence and travel to the municipal office for permit submission and issuance, and more phone calls and emails to communicate with other staff, building professionals, and applicants.  

Municipal office closures, a potential sense of urgency to finish ongoing projects, frustration on pausing projects before they start, and increased efforts to stay at home are making the push for digitalization more critical.  

E-permitting can drastically help municipal building departments across Ontario manage during the second province-wide state of emergency because e-permitting:

  • Enables remote work and eliminate the need to travel to the municipal office,  
  • Speeds up permit issuance with more efficient processes – no more drop boxes or emails for permits (Cloudpermit allows municipal building departments to issue permits 50% faster than paper-based systems),
  • Eliminates paper to encourage staying at home and discourage exchanging material in-person,
  • Improves communication by bringing all parties in the building permit process together,
  • Relieves stress by future-proofing business practices for unprecedented times.

The Cloudpermit community has benefited from having a digital building permit process instead of a paper-based or on-premises system during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, read more below.

Enable remote work and eliminate the need to travel:

We were trying to transition to remote work by scanning documents and using email to send them back and forth. This was much less efficient than keeping all our documents in Cloudpermit where we can access them in real time from anywhere. It is important to me that we are always improving our customer service.”  

– Dave Methot, Chief Building Official for the Township of Wainfleet

Speed up permit issuance with more efficient processes:

“Digitizing our processes was an important next step for us anyways, but the timing of the implementation has allowed us to adjust very smoothly during this pandemic. The helpful Cloudpermit team was able to install, update and support the system remotely with no downtime. In the first two weeks of the COVID-19 shut-down, we issued 40 permits online! It was an especially busy time for us, but we were prepared.”

– Debbie Anderson, Chief Building Official for the Municipality of Grey Highlands  

Eliminate paper to encourage staying at home:

“When we were using a paper-based system during COVID-19, it was inefficient to go back-and-forth to the office dropbox to pick up permits. Cloudpermit has helped streamline our processes and has improved the flow of permits in and out of the office as we’re dealing with 90% less paper than we had before.”

– Bob McLean, Chief Building Official for the Municipality of West Perth  

Improve communication and customer service:

“Before COVID-19, our customer service was mostly face-to-face as we were 95% paper and had contractors who would come in to ask a question or two. We were worried that e-permitting would take away from our customer service, but we’ve since discovered that Cloudpermit has enabled us to continue to provide excellent customer service to our community.

– Grant Brouwer, Director of Building and Development for the Town of St. Marys and President of the OBOA (Ontario Building Officials Association).

With Cloudpermit, we’re telling developers that we are considering and catering to their needs. We’re communicating that we’re a mature municipality in how we deliver service to all parties involved in the building permit process and that Huron-Kinloss is a great place to build.”

– Matt Farrell, Chief Building Official for the Township of Huron-Kinloss and Vice-President of the ACBOA (Alliance of Canadian Building Officials’ Associations).  

Relieve stress during the lockdown:

“The COVID-19 pandemic sped up our move toward digitalization. The jump to e-permitting seemed overwhelming after hearing other municipalities share difficult, time-consuming, and expensive journeys to going digital. It seemed insurmountable until I talked with other small municipalities that use and love Cloudpermit, like the Municipality of Middlesex Centre, and learned about their positive experiences. The Cloudpermit team also gave me confidence because they really understand the building permit process and municipal building department processes.

– Gerald Moore, President of RSM Building Consultants and Chief Building Official for the Municipality of Puslinch in his RSM capacity  

For further information on how the lockdown impacts the building industry, please refer to this Q&A from the OBOA, or reach out to us here to see how e-permitting can help during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.