Calgary’s Single Construction Permit system wins CIPA Award

The City of Calgary’s initiative to improve the efficiency of its building inspection process has earned Alberta’s largest city recognition from the Canadian Information Productivity Awards (CIPA) this year.

The city’s Single Construction Permit initiative was a result of collaboration among Calgary’s Development and Building Approvals department, Building Regulations department and the Calgary Region Home Builders Association, according to David Price, the city’s manager of building regulations.

One initiative’s main objectives is to reduce the number of inspections the City of Calgary conducts on single family homes from an average of 21 inspections per home to about 16, said Price. “Our concern was that we didn’t think the (inspection) process for single family homes in Calgary was as efficient as it could be.”

A record-breaking construction boom in Calgary that saw the industry reach $4.7 billion in 2006 has also put a strain on the department’s manpower capacity, Price added.

By coordinating the city’s home inspection process with the builder’s construction process and then targeting defined phases of construction, the city was able to streamline its inspection process and consolidate all three construction phases into a single permit.

City inspection vehicles have been outfitted with a printer and laptop, from which inspectors can access a document management system that allows them to immediately file inspection reports right on site. These reports are transmitted electronically to the city’s database and can be accessed and viewed by builders instantly, said Price.

Training was a significant part of the undertaking, said Price. City inspectors were trained on various aspects of construction – plumbing, electrical, etc. – so that one inspector can perform checks on various aspects of construction.

At a gala event in Toronto last Wednesday, the City of Calgary received CIPA’s 2007 Gold Award for efficiency and operational improvements. Twenty-three other organizations from the government and private sectors were also recognized this year.

At the awards reception, CIPA president and CEO Norm Kirkpatrick said this year attracted the largest number of entries in CIPA’s history. CIPA is a national competition that recognizes Canadian organizations for innovative use of information technology.