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.


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

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

Pierre-Christian Collins Hoffman
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
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
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). 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 & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd 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 or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

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