Canada: The New "Buildings" Chapter Of The Safety Code: Quebec New Requirements Regarding Building Maintenance

On March 18, 2013, the Regulation to improve building safety1 came into force in Quebec. This Regulation introduces amendments to the Safety Code,2 a regulation adopted in virtue of the Building Act,3 which lays down minimum requirements for the development and maintenance of various facilities and structures in order to ensure public safety.

Highly publicized accidents resulting from structural failures prompted the Quebec legislature to develop new rules for the maintenance, inspection and safety of buildings, particularly with respect to structural damage. By adopting the amendments to the Code, the Régie du Bâtiment provides a response to requests from fire prevention stakeholders, which had urged the provincial government to enact stricter rules regarding fire safety, the whole without affecting the power of municipalities to adopt more stringent requirements. In addition, rules with respect to the maintenance of water cooling towers will come into force in May 2013, in direct response to the outbreak of legionnaires' disease which occurred in Quebec city during the summer of 2012.

In principle, these new requirements are applicable to all buildings designed for public use, excluding, single-family dwellings and residential buildings of less than 3 floors or less than 9 units.

While every building must comply with the rules applicable at the time of its year of construction or transformation, that is to say the general rules set out in various building codes (provincial or federal) in effect at the time of the construction or alteration of the building, these new amendments now impose a general obligation to maintain all buildings and equipment meant for public use in good condition. In our view, this provision alone does not change the scope of the building owner's liability, as the Civil Code of Quebec already provides that the owner is liable for injury caused by the ruin of its building. The innovative aspect of the new provisions is the addition of specific maintenance obligations for certain building elements.

The new, specific obligations of owners are threefold:

  • More stringent rules for buildings employed for residential or care and treatment uses, including obligations regarding fire alarm and detection systems, smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, fire separation, emergency lighting, flame-spread rating and means of egress;
  • Rules for the maintenance of façades and multistorey garages;
  • Rules for the maintenance of water cooling towers.

Some of these new provisions will be implemented on a phased basis. For example, the provisions related to fire safety in residential buildings or care and treatment facilities will start coming into force in 2014. Conversely, obligations regarding the maintenance of façades and multistorey garages have been in effect since March 18.

It appears that no other Canadian province has adopted rules for the maintenance of façades and parking garages as detailed and stringent as those recently adopted by the Government of Quebec in the Safety Code. However, their application is limited. Indeed, they do not apply to buildings exempt from the application of Buildings chapter, including agricultural buildings, industrial buildings and any building vacant for construction, renovation or demolition works.

As a general proposition, the Building chapter provides that a building subject to its application and with aboveground façades of 5 or more floors must now be maintained "to ensure safety and prevent the development of a dangerous condition".4

The owner must establish and maintain a register or logbook of the maintenance, inspection and repair of façades for consultation by the Régie du Bâtiment, containing, inter alia, a description of all repair work performed on the façades, as well as the inspection reports.

An inspection of façades must also be performed every 5 years by an engineer or architect to certify that the façades show no "dangerous condition", namely "when, at any time, an element of the façade may detach itself from the building or collapse and cause personal injury".5 Where appropriate, the report shall include recommendations to correct the defects which may contribute to the development of dangerous conditions.

An initial inspection report of the façades of a building must be obtained no later than 10 years old following the date of its construction. However, owners of buildings more than 10 years old as of March 18, 2013 must submit their first report within shorter delays. For buildings of more than 45 years old, the first report must be obtained within the first 24 months of the entry into force of the amendments, for those from 25 to 45 years old, within the first 36 months, for those from 15 to 25 years old, within the first 48 months and for those between 10 and 15 years old, within the first 60 months. Thereafter, a new report will be required every 5 years.

Provisions relating to parking garages are applicable only to "underground and aboveground multistorey garages with a concrete slab whose driveable portion is not laid directly on the ground".6 As it is the case for façades, the owner of a multistorey garage falling within the application of the Code must establish a register of repairs and inspections. However, the owner is subject to stricter requirements regarding the verification of the structure.

Additionally, the owners of such multistorey garages must perform an annual inspection with dated photographs, which are to be compiled in the register. Likewise, the owner must have an engineer perform a thorough safety inspection of its garage every 5 years attesting the absence of any dangerous condition or, where appropriate, providing recommendations to correct the defects. In addition, an in depth inspection must also be carried out following an event that may have an effect on the structural behavior of the parking garage.

For garages built less than five years but more than one year prior to March 18, 2013, the first in-depth inspection report must be obtained before March 18, 2014. For those built more than five years prior to March 18, 2013, the report must be obtained by March 18, 2016. Thereafter, in-depth inspections must be carried out every 5 years.

Finally, by May 12, 2013, all water cooling tower owners will be required to complete and submit an information form containing their coordinates, address of the tower's location, names of members of a professional order who developed its maintenance program and a brief description of the facility type. For every new water cooling tower, this form must be sent within 30 days of its construction and the Régie du Bâtiment must be notified of any changes regarding the information contained therein.

It must be noted that unlike façades and parking garages, the rules regarding water cooling towers are applicable to all buildings, without exception.

A maintenance program for such towers must be drawn up by one or more members of a professional order whose scope of practice is connected to cooling towers, such as a microbiologist. The program must take into account the history of the facility and be updated every 5 years or following any major modification, a change in water quality maintenance procedure, replacement of an appliance or equipment, or if the decontamination procedure provided by the maintenance program is carried out because "the quality of the water reaches an immediate health risk threshold".7

Just like façades and multistorey garages, a local register must be established by the owner of the water cooling tower. The register shall include, inter alia, information regarding the maintenance programs, results of water analyses for the past two years and the history of maintenance, repairs, alterations and replacements.

Ultimately, legal persons who violate any requirement set out by the Buildings chapter are liable for a fine ranging from $3,144 to $15,723 for a first offense. For a second offense, the fine can vary between $6,289 and $31,444. Any subsequent offense can result in a fine ranging from $18,867 to $94,333.

In short, the Buildings chapter was added to the Security Code with a view to preventing accidents and ensuring public safety. Minimum rules of due care for specific structural elements of some buildings are now in effect, with deterrent fines for failure to comply, particularly to overcome problems arising as a result of the advancing age of the real estate stock in Quebec.

Footnotes

1 O.C. 1263-2012.

2 c. B-1.1., r. 3.

3 c. B-1.1.

4 Sec. 372 of the Safety Code.

5 Sec. 375 of the Safety Code.

6 Sec. 385 of the Safety Code.

7 Sec. 403 of the Safety Code.

The foregoing provides only an overview. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, a qualified lawyer should be consulted.

© Copyright 2013 McMillan LLP

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Pierre-Christian Collins Hoffman
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions