British Columbia has introduced a new Building Act to establish more consistent building requirements throughout the province.
The construction sector has been asking for a standard approach for years as differing building requirements between jurisdictions can slow development and add costs, notes Rich Coleman, British Columbia Minister of Natural Gas Development and Responsible for Housing. With a more streamlined and modern building regulatory system, the Act will reduce costs and improve efficiency, productivity and innovation in the construction sector, he adds.
The Building Act will:
- Streamline Building Requirements – ensuring building requirements are the same throughout B.C. by establishing the Province as the sole authority to create building requirements.
- Establish mandatory qualifications for local building officials – improving the interpretation, application and enforcement of the BC Building Code by making sure building officials have standard qualifications.
- Expand Provincial Review – furthering the province’s ability to review innovative building proposals (such as the Wood Innovation Design Centre in Prince George).
The Building Act amendments, which the government has been working on since 2004, are based on extensive consultation with industry and other stakeholders. A two-to-four-year transition period will give local governments and building officials time to adapt to the new provisions.
“The Building Act balances the consistency the construction sector desires with the flexibility local governments’ need and paves the way for greater innovation,” says Anne McMullin, president and CEO of Urban Development Institute. “Streamlining building requirements will also help reduce construction costs and improve housing affordability.”
“We are pleased to see the B.C. government adopt a more modern approach to building regulations,” adds Manjit S. Sohi, president of the Building Officials’ Association of BC. “Building requirements across B.C. are currently far from consistent and often complicate construction and increase costs. This new act will give builders and developers the certainty they need to move forward with projects.”
Having a stand-alone act for building construction is common in Canada. Eight other provinces have legislation similar to B.C.’s Building Act.
“Whether it’s reviewing plans or buildings under construction or issuing permits, building officials play a key role in monitoring Building Code compliance. Establishing mandatory qualifications will help increase the professionalism of building officials and support a more consistent interpretation of the BC Building Code.”