Tecumseh needs more building inspectors to meet growing demand

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The Town of Tecumseh is making moves to ensure its Building Department can keep up with demand for inspections after landing in a tough situation in 2021.

The Town plans to conduct a nationwide search to add qualified staff to its Building Department to meet its legislated provincial obligations when it comes timely inspections.

The Town faced issues in 2021 following retirements and resignations that resulted in openings being filled with recently retired inspectors from neighbouring municipalities on a contract basis.

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara says they were able to hire a full-time chief building official, who started a few months ago but they are still short staffed when it comes to these complex, technical positions.

McNamara says there are so many projects on the horizon from residential housing to commercial and industrial construction that will require inspections.

"That takes a lot of horsepower to be able to do and that one of the key components to be able to do that is having a building department that can get those permits out as quickly as possible," he says.

According to a recent report to Tecumseh Town Council, the Town's Building Department averaged 91 housing units per year over a 10 year average, but that figure is expected to increase to 175 housing units per year for the next 20 years.

More than 380 housing units will be constructed next year alone, with an additional 340 housing units in 2024.

The Town is hoping to add at least one Deputy Chief Building Official and one Senior Building Inspector.

A recent report to Town Council described the issue as a potential pinch point for development due to the high volume of inspections, on-going construction through the town, and anticipated growth on the horizon.

McNamara says along with more people to beef up the department, they're looking to add an e-permit system to help reduce the time it takes to issue a building permit.

"To help facilitate and accelerate permits and inspections. I think those are critical pieces as well, adding that to the tool box in order for us to work hand and glove with the development and building community out there to make sure we're timely," he says.

McNamara says the responsibility of these inspectors is to make sure all of the proper building codes are followed and they will be looking across the country to fill the jobs.

"That's why you need those qualified individuals who understand plumbing, electrical, insulation, framing, roofing, all of that. There's a structure to the expertise of those individuals. There's a real shortage of building officials across the province and I would surmise across the country," he adds.

The average of 442 permits per year, which includes commercial and industrial, is expected to increase to an average of approximately 840 permits per year over the next 10 years.