AI pilot projects aim to streamline permitting process in Burlington

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Burlington using AI In the City of Burlington, technology is playing a pivotal role in accelerating the construction of homes. During an April meeting of the Pipeline to Permit Standing Committee, officials were briefed on the innovative ways technology is being leveraged to streamline the permitting process and advance housing targets.

Two pilot projects utilizing assistive AI technology have been initiated to potentially enhance the permitting process:

One pilot employs an AI tool to evaluate zoning bylaws pertinent to industrial-commercial buildings. This digital tool scrutinizes plans submitted by applicants to ensure compliance with regulations on setbacks, heights, floor area ratios, landscape areas, and parking ratios. Burlington stands as the second city in Canada to adopt this technology for permit enhancement and the first to apply it specifically for development on employment lands.

The second pilot utilizes AI to assess architectural drawings against Ontario Building Code rules. Applicant drawings for single-family residential homes, four-to-six-storey apartment buildings, and mid-rise commercial structures undergo evaluation for adherence to building code requirements concerning building face and separation, flooring dimensions, stairway design, and minimum floor areas.

“Burlington is a leader across Canada, being the second city in our country to use Assistive AI technology to help speed up permits and the first city to use it specifically for the development of employment lands,” said Mayor Maryanne Meed.

Both pilot projects will generate detailed compliance reports for users, offering immediate feedback on design aspects that pass, need further consideration, or fail requirements. This swift feedback distinguishes the technology, delivering value through time savings, enhanced transparency, and improved user experience.

Also, Burlington has introduced enhancements to the pre-building approval process. The launch of MyFiles, an online self-service tool, enables applicants to monitor the status of their pre-building approval applications in real-time. Process improvements have significantly reduced the average approval time from 17 weeks to 5.5 weeks, with 30% of applications processed within two weeks.

With a projected population of 265,000 by 2051, Burlington remains committed to facilitating housing growth, aiming for an additional 29,000 housing units by 2031. As of April 17, the city has approved 702 housing units through issued building permits in 2024, with over 1,017 units currently under construction.

As of April 17, 702 housing units have been approved through building permits issued in 2024, including apartments and single detached homes. There are currently over 1017 housing units under construction.

“Leveraging the advancements of technology in the development and building permit review process will assist all involved parties,” said Nick Anastasopoulos, Chief Building Official. “These initiatives will provide opportunities to increase the quality of the initial submission which, in turn, should reduce multiple resubmissions. Increasing the accuracy of submissions will reduce review timeframes and ultimately speed up the review process.”

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