Local Government Opposes Changes to Building Regulatory System

At the 2012 UBCM Convention, the UBCM membership endorsed the policy paper “Modernizing Building Code Safety Regulations [PDF - 183 KB]”, and in doing so expressed their opposition to proposed provincial changes to the building regulatory system. The proposed changes would grant the provincial government sole authority to adopt building standards across BC, divesting local government of any jurisdiction over the building regulatory process. The Province suggests that these changes will reduce the cost of building construction.

Local government recognizes the need to ensure that housing is affordable; however, they place strong emphasis on the need for flexibility in meeting this objective and suggest that a “one size fits all" approach is not the best solution. As detailed in the policy paper, local government supports an alternative approach to the building regulatory process, founded upon the development of an ongoing partnership between the development industry, local government and the provincial government.

A key concern for local government is the principle that any discussion of the building regulatory process must address ongoing concerns about the liability borne by local government when approving building construction. Local government has long requested amendments to the Negligence Act, to ensure that local government is held responsible for its actions only, and not for the actions of others, during the approval and construction of buildings.

Beyond the call for flexibility and a refined approach to liability, local government has expressed support for province-wide qualifications and standards for building inspectors, and increased provincial assistance in the interpretation of the Building Code. However, local government is keenly aware that the changes proposed by the provincial government will cost money.

The current shortage of qualified building inspectors means that the Province must move quickly to provide upgrading for existing inspectors, and recruit and train new inspectors. This will require both provincial funding and staff resources; furthermore, the Province may need to provide financial assistance to smaller communities working to achieve compliance with the new building regulatory system.

To fund these changes, the Province has proposed a new provincial levy on construction costs, to be collected by local government. Local government does not support this idea and suggests the Province should minimize administrative handling by collecting the levy directly from the construction industry themselves.

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