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Coquitlam's online portal for development applications recognized internationally

The city says its digital housing or amenity application process has already cut up to 100 hours per approved project.
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Person typing on a laptop. | Getty Images

Coquitlam city staff recently received an international accolade for its use of technology to reduce time and resources for those wishing to apply for a housing development. 

The city won the Tech Trailblazer Award at the 2022 digital government awards by Granicus — an American-based company that specializes in municipal online services — and was the only Canadian community to be nominated for one of 13 awards.

Coquitlam's director of development services Andrew Merrill says its system aims to automatically process housing and other related applications, a job that used to be done manually.

"The city previously handled its development planning referral process – during which applications are reviewed by internal departments and external agencies – through a labour-intensive process involving email and spreadsheets," adds Merrill in a news release. 

"Tracking was challenging and the manual steps slowed down turnaround times."

Merrill explains the city introduced a Granicus digital platform that stores all project data, automates communications to and from reviewers, consolidates responses, generates reports, flags issues and tracks processing times.

"The result has been a savings of up to 100 hours per project," he says.

"Since 2019, the average time between development application submission and issuing of the first review letter has been reduced by 40 per cent."

Coquitlam's statement says the city is continuing to try to find ways to save staff time and resources, and improve flexibility and service for qualifying development applications.

Merrill says its goal is to reduce proposal delays that could bring new housing and other amenities to meet the needs of the growing community. 

The Tech Trailblazer Award is earned by organizations "charging forward with digital transformation."