Official Planning and Zoning Bylaw Amendments Application Process Review

The Challenge

Leading Edge Group (LEG) was engaged to work with a regional municipality and all of its area municipalities to undertake a review and analysis of the official planning amendment (OPA) and zoning by-law amendment (ZBA) processes and develop a more streamlined and standardized future state that better reflects recent legislated changes to the Planning Act.

The goal was to review the different approaches taken by each of the seven (7) municipalities and the regional office in how they processed OPA/ZBA applications with a view to developing a single and standard process for all that reflected the time frames outlined in the Planning Act.

The Solution

The project team mapped and analyzed the current application processes for each individual municipality with a view to highlighting waste and operational inefficiencies and differences. The team then proceeded to develop a standard future state process that would provide all applicants with a common set of planning application procedures, regardless of the area municipality. Methods of review and analysis included:

  • Assessing past performance process data from the municipalities and the regional office to compare current performance levels against the legislated 120/90 days of respective processing time for OPAs and ZBAs
  • Lean value stream mapping and problem solving of individual municipal processes to serve as a foundation on which to develop a single standardized process that conforms as closely as possible to the time frames outlined in the Planning Act
  • Soliciting different process perspectives from project team members from all municipalities, as well as key external stakeholders, to identify possible areas and opportunities for improvement

The future state design of this process was guided by interviews with key stakeholders with a view to improving their future experience and expectations. Current practices were challenged, particularly those tasks that were labeled non-value-add (NVA) in the current state. Where possible, the team also looked at any opportunity to run administrative tasks concurrently within legislated time allowances.

The team identified a number of core elements to incorporate in the future state:

  • Standard checklist to assess planning/zoning requirements
  • Mandatory meeting held with applicant/agencies/planner at the pre-submission stage
  • Standard application form issued to applicant at the pre-submission stage
  • Submitted application file sent for comments within a set time frame from receipt
  • Standard form used for agency comments
  • Standardized terms of reference for various studies
  • Set time frames for:
    • Formal application completion
    • Analysis and review
    • Final application decision

The Outcome

Future state task times are significantly lower than those recorded in the current state, by over 1,000 minutes of staff time which equates to a 16.5% saving. The future state demonstrated a significant improvement in non-value-added (NVA) time. This represents a 41% reduction in the overall current process lead time. The majority of this was driven by eliminating or reducing waiting periods between tasks.

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