The British Columbia Government has started to bring into force
some of the key provisions of its new Building Act.
The Act, which was passed by the legislature in the early half
of 2015, is intended to provide greater consistency in the building
and construction industry, and to modernize and streamline the
building regulatory system.
The first substantive provisions of the Act came into force in
December 2015. The latest provisions address municipal
building requirements. The Act states that if municipalities have
existing building requirements in their bylaws, they will be of no
legal force as of December 2017.
Key provisions are these:
Section 5 – this section provides that, as of
December 15, 2017, local government building requirements will
have no legal effect to the extent that they relate to matters
covered by a prior provincial building regulation such as the 2012
BC Building Code (the "Building
Section 7 – the Province recognizes that there are
legitimate reasons why a municipality may want to enforce
requirements that are more stringent that those provided in the
Building Code, and the goal of greater consistency needs to be
balanced against a reasonable ability for local governments to meet
unique local needs. In these circumstances, municipalities will be
able to apply for a variation from any provincial building
requirements if they can demonstrate a compelling reason. The
variation would apply within the community or communities making
the request and would not be specific to a single building site.
The building requirements in an approved request for variation will
be enacted through a provincial building regulation. It is worth
noting that the Province is establishing several working groups to
address the types of building requirements that are found most
often in local government bylaws (including fire sprinklers, energy
efficiency, and accessibility that go beyond the Building Code) to
avoid individual variations regarding these matters.
Three new sections of the Building Act guide are coming in
spring 2016 and will provide additional information for local
governments in understanding the changes and how they can
effectively review and amend their bylaws are these:
section B1 will explain how local governments and other local
authorities are affected by the Building Act;
section B1 Appendix will explain what local governments need to
know about section 5 and local building requirements; and
section C1 and the accompanying application form will explain
how local governments and other local authorities can apply for a
variation in their jurisdiction, and the criteria that will be used
to review applications.
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.
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).