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Manitoba’s housing regulations badly need an overhaul report finds

by Steve Randall on 29 May 2019

A review of regulations and processes that impact Manitoba’s housing market and infrastructure has found several issues with how the system works.

The provincial government has released the findings of the review by the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) which looked into the planning, zoning and permitting activities across the entire province including Manitoba Hydro, the Office of the Fire Commission, the City of Winnipeg, as well as all other municipalities and rural planning districts.

It found multiple issues with inconsistency and inefficiency; and a failure to adopt best practices. Premier Brian Pallister says it has to change.

“We have long said that strong economic growth is our best path forward to being the most improved province,” said Pallister. “This report confirms that we have a provincewide system that is cumbersome and unnecessarily delaying private-sector investments across the province. This supplements what we heard from our Red Tape Reduction Task Force, but until we received this report, we did not have a sense of the enormity of the problem before us.”

The report highlights that cutting unnecessary permitting delays in the province would contribute $17 million every day to GDP.

Inconsistency must be tackled

Inconsistency is a key theme to the findings in areas such as inspection services with the building code not interpreted consistently.

The review found that processes are inconsistent within regulatory authorities, and also inconsistent between regulatory authorities. And the report says that those applying for permits are not routinely considered as ‘clients’ but are often treated as ‘adversaries’.

“This review identified the gross inefficiency of permitting and inspection processes related to land use and development in Manitoba, which demonstrated that we are overburdening Manitobans with red tape and as a result, actively discouraging economic growth,” said Pallister. “We are however, encouraged by this report – we now know the problems and we also know that we have the tools to fix them.”

Recommendations will be finalized following a consultation period with stakeholders.

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