The Province of British Columbia recently introduced the new Building Act (Bill 3 – 2015) on February 12, 2015, which according to the Province’s newsroom, aims at modernizing the building regulatory system in British Columbia.
The proposed act seeks to:
give the Province overriding authority to define standards regarding building activities such as the construction, repair and demolition of buildings to ensure that building requirements are consistent across British Columbia. By centralizing the regulation of building activities under the Province’s direction, the goal is to streamline the regulatory process to reduce costs and improve efficiency in British Columbia’s construction industry;
establish mandatory qualifications for local building officials, including the introduction of qualifying exams and participation in continuing professional development. Arguably, these provisions will further ensure that builders receive a more consistent level of service and knowledge when seeking to understand and comply with relevant building activities standards; and
enhance the Province’s ability to review innovative building proposals like the Wood Innovation Design Centre in Prince George.
While the proposed act will apply province-wide, the City of Vancouver, which has its own building requirements, will not be affected.
The proposed act is the first legislation in British Columbia devoted to the building and construction sector and is the result of years of consultations with different communities across British Columbia, including the Union of BC Municipalities. Bill 3 underwent a second reading on February 26, 2015. The speeches and remarks from the second reading can be found on the Hansard website.
If and when the proposed act is passed, changes will come gradually. The legislation contains transitional provisions and will phase in over several years to give local authorities time to amend their bylaws and ensure that building inspection officials are properly trained and qualified.
The proposed act will not only impact builders and developers in British Columbia but consumers as well. It is hoped by the government that more uniform building requirements will offer consumers consistent quality across the Province and long lasting buildings.
Author: Joy Ren, McCarthy Tetrault LLP