Earlier this year the BC Government introduced Bill 3-2015, the
Building Act in an attempt to establish
more consistent and standardized building requirements throughout
the Province (with the exception of buildings located in the City
of Vancouver and in or on mines).
The BC Government has explained that the Building Act
Streamline Building Requirements –
ensuring building requirements are the same throughout BC by
establishing the Province as the sole authority to create building
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).
If the Building Act becomes law, it will not replace
the existing BC Building Code 2012 (the "Building
Code"), but will instead streamline how the Building
Code is used. The Building Code is a provincial regulation that is
based on the 2010 edition of the model National Building Code, and
establishes minimum standards for safety, health, accessibility,
fire and structural protection of buildings. The Building Code
applies to the construction of new buildings and the alteration,
repair or demolition of existing buildings throughout British
Columbia, with the exception of the City of Vancouver and certain
In Vancouver, all new construction and building alterations must
comply with the new Vancouver Building By-Law 2014 (the
"VBBL"), which took effect on January 1,
2015. While the VBBL is based on the Building Code, it contains
additional requirements specific to Vancouver including new energy
efficiency requirements that promote Vancouver's objectives of
the "Greenest City 2020 Action Plan."
The VBBL and the proposed Building Act will impact how
developers and others involved in the construction of buildings
design and construct new projects. With the introduction of the new
VBBL and Bill 3-2015, developers and other construction
professionals in British Columbia should ensure that they are up to
date on applicable building requirements. If Bill 3-2015 becomes
law, there will be a two to four year transition period during
which local governments, building officials and developers will
have time to adapt to the new provisions.
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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