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Ease pressure on your front counter staff

Presented by Carly Thackray
in Technology
October, 2022

Sponsored by Cloudpermit

Front counter staff play a valuable role in any government. They often lend a helping hand to residents who need support.

British Columbia’s District of Sechelt has found greater convenience and labour savings for its front counter staff since bringing building permits online in March.

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Offer Online Payment for Building Permits

Sechelt had a goal to have a quick turnaround on building permit applications. The district has accomplished this goal since giving its 10,000 residents a way to apply and pay for their building permits online.

“It was a priority for us to offer our residents online payment. Our finance team immediately recognized the value in this move,” shared James Nyhus, Sechelt’s Chief Building Official. “Cloudpermit was able to work with our building and finance teams, as well as our POS vendors, to make a seamless transition to online payment. We are proud of our work and how offering online payment has removed labour from our front counter staff.”

Accept Building Permit Applications Online

As most building departments can agree, complete building permit applications at the front counter are rare. Applications are often submitted with missing information.

“We used to receive building permit applications in different pieces at the front counter, via email, or through our staff,” Cam Landry, one of Sechelt’s building officials, explained.

About 90 percent of Sechelt’s building permit applications are now submitted online. The 10 percent that do come in on paper are entered into the online system for further convenience.

“Now we receive complete applications online and can store all applications in the same place,” continued Landry. “This has greatly reduced pressure on our front counter staff. It has also saved them valuable time that used to be spent on filing, piecing together applications, and communicating with applicants about missing information.”

Nyhus added to this point: “Our front counter staff used to act as application reviewers before we moved online. Now, all they need to do is direct people to Cloudpermit.”

Set Up Building Inspections Online

Traditionally, applicants need to call, email, or visit the front counter to book an inspection. By adopting online software, applicants can schedule their inspection online. This saves scheduling time for front counter staff.

Easy scheduling is also a time-saver for builders. They even receive automatic updates when the status of their building inspection has been updated.

“Our contractors sing the praises of receiving the results of their building inspection in realtime,” Nyhus said. “If the supervisor is onsite or at another property close by, they can talk with the inspector in the field, which saves even more time.”

Embrace Being Online

Online building permits save time, are convenient, and are flexible for all staff, builders, and their community. Taking the time to transition to a new system is worthwhile.

Visit to learn more.  MW

Municipal World Insider and Executive Members: You might also be interested in Karen Farbridge and Laura Taylor’s article: Net-zero secondary planning brings energy to local planning.

Carly Thackray is Cloudpermit’s Marketing and Communications Manager.

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