Ex-Premier Jean Charest and his cabinet probably had the safety
of citizens in mind when, on June 20, 2012, they introduced the
draft regulation entitled "Regulation to improve building
"Regulation"), which would amend the
Safety Code of Québec (the
"Code") adopted under the Building
Act2. This Regulation, if enacted by the new
government, would amend the Code by adding a new chapter entitled
The Regulation sets out the standards applicable for the
territory of Quebec that owners, occupiers and users must comply
with to improve building safety. It contains applicable
construction standards that would ensure the safety, soundness and
protection of buildings from fire and structural damage. It would
also introduce provisions, which would be more restrictive than the
initial construction requirements, for sleeping accommodations and
care occupancies, including special requirements for private
seniors' residences subject to the certification mechanism of
the ministère de la Santé et des Services
sociaux. The Regulation also contains provisions concerning
the inspection and maintenance of building façades and
As of the date of this bulletin, the Regulation has not been
enacted by the government. If it were enacted in its entirety, what
would be the immediate consequences for the owners?
In practical terms, owners would have to comply with new
standards for fire alarm and detection systems. These standards
will simply implement the fire protection provisions contained in
the National Fire Code of Canada.3 Also, more rigourous
and periodical maintenance will be necessary for building
façades and underground and aboveground multistorey
The maintenance of building façades will be required for
any building having five or more storeys above ground. A register
must be kept on the premises during the lifetime of the building to
record certain basic information. Among other things, a description
of the repair work, maintenance work and modifications made to the
façade, as well as verification reports, must be included in
or appended to this register. In addition, every 5 years, the
building owner must obtain a verification report from an engineer
or architect stating that the building's façades are not
in a dangerous condition, and that recommendations have been made
for the correction of deficiencies, if any are found. Also, special
conditions apply concerning the frequency for obtaining
verification reports when buildings are more than 10 years old.
The same reasoning applies to the verification of multistorey
garages. A register must be kept on the premises of the garage for
recording basic information, including the owner's name,
description of work done, etc. In addition, the Regulation also
requires the owner to conduct an annual verification of the
multistorey garage. This verification must take the form of an
information sheet (contained in the Regulation), describing the
specific conditions observed and supported by dated photographs.
Furthermore, every 5 years, the owner must obtain an in-depth
verification report from an engineer. Finally, an additional
verification of the multistorey garage will be required if any
event should occur that could affect its structural behaviour.
This bulletin provides a summary of the responsibilities and
additional costs that will apply to the owners of buildings covered
by the Regulation. If the draft regulation is ultimately enacted,
it is hoped that the rationale of safety underlying the regulation
will serve as a guide for the owners who are subject to it.
1 Gazette officielle du Québec, June 20,
2012, Part 2, Vol. 144, no. 25, page 1997.
2 R.S.Q. c. B-1.1.
3 Standards established by the National Fire Code of
Canada 2010 (NRCC 53303) published by the Canadian Commission on
Building and Fire Codes of the National Research Council of
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Russell v. Township of Georgian Bay provides a useful reminder of the fact that while municipal officials sometimes appear to hold all of the cards in disputes with home owners, that is not always the case.
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