Building Act Introduced

The Province of B.C. has introduced new legislation to streamline building requirements and establish mandatory qualifications for local building officials. The legislative changes will remove the “concurrent authority” powers under the Community Charter with respect to the BC Building Code and will remove the references to the Code under the Local Government Act.   

The new Act raises questions about the about the validity of a number of local government bylaws, such as those that require sprinklers in residential homes or restrict the type of building materials that can be used in wildfire areas or in floodplain areas.

The new Building Act (Bill 3), which was introduced on February 12, 2015, will enable the following provisions:

  • Authorize the Minister to enact building codes and other regulations relating to building and requires the Minister to hear certain requests for variations from those codes and regulations;
  • Limit the jurisdiction of local authorities in respect of building;
  • Provide for the qualification and regulation of officials who take certain decisions on behalf of local authorities in relation to building codes and other regulations relating to building, and provides for delegation outside government of the administration of the qualification and regulation of those officials;
  • Continue the Building Code Appeal Board; and
  • Provide for the recovery of costs to the government of variation requests and applications to the Building Code Appeal Board.

The new building legislation applies to all areas of the Province, except the City of Vancouver, which has its own building requirements.  The legislation takes precedence over the Community Charter, the Fire Services Act, the Islands Trust Act, the Local Government Act, and the University Act.  A local building requirement has no effect to the extent that it relates to a matter that is subject to the BC Building Code or prescribed by regulation as a restricted matter by the Province.

Local government under the new legislation may apply for a variation to the Building Code or the Province could identify by regulation a list of building activities that may continue to be regulated by local government.  Requests for a variation to the Building Code may be subject to new cost recovery charges by the Province.

A two-year transition period has been proposed to give local governments time to amend its bylaws and a four-year transition period has been proposed to ensure that building inspection staff meet the mandatory Provincial training qualifications.

UBCM is looking for local government views on the new legislation introduced by the Province.  Questions or comments should be directed to Ken Vance, Senior Policy Advisor, UBCM.

Additional information on the changes proposed to the building regulatory system are available on the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Natural Gas website.

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