Province Moves Forward With Building Code

New legislation to govern building regulation is currently being developed by the Province. Given the potential impact on local government operations, the Executive has authorized UBCM staff to participate in the legislative process that is underway.

UBCM has received a letter from Minister Coleman stating that he intends to introduce changes to the building code and invited UBCM to participate in an advisory group developing new legislation.  Furthermore, the Premier in her mandate letter to Minister Coleman, has indicated that the Province intends to “introduce a new BC Building Code in the Spring 2015”.  The UBCM Executive has reviewed the matter and determined that the best way to serve the members is to join the advisory group.

The Province believes that there are a number of problems with the current building regulation model.  Their concerns stem from local government building standards that exceed building code requirements lead to a lack of consistency in building code administration between adjacent municipalities.  These problems have resulted in poor compliance with building code provisions.

The legislative changes are intended to establish the Province as the sole authority for the building code and to eliminate “local government technical building standards” that are inconsistent with it.  The goal is to improve building code compliance and consistency, by setting minimum qualification standards for local government building officials.  Local governments will be given two years to change their local bylaws to eliminate any “technical building requirements” that may be in conflict with the Building Code.  In addition, local governments will be given four years to ensure that building inspection officers meet the mandatory Provincial qualifications.

There remain a number of unanswered questions about the changes being proposed by the Province.  The reform plan presented by the Province lacks specific details as to what is planned.  The scope of the proposed legislation is not detailed and no indication is given on the nature of the new ministerial powers, nor how they might compare with existing powers.  The plan indicates that changes will be made to the Community Charter and the Local Government Act, however, the scope of the amendments are not identified.  The reform plan calls for a uniform building code, but does not apply to the City of Vancouver, leaving a large gap in the coverage.  The plan calls for strong provincial leadership, but does not identify how the Province will provide the wide ranging support services needed to implement the new building measures and the funding required to implement these changes long term.

UBCM is looking for local government feedback on how the Provincial changes may impact their operations.  The bylaw and policy changes that may have to be made to meet Provincial objectives and how these changes might affect the decision-making process related to the approval of new building construction.  Questions or comments should be directed to Ken Vance, Senior Policy Advisor.

Additional information on the changes proposed to the building regulatory system are available on the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Natural Gas website.  Background information: 2007, 2012

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