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 proposes to:
- Streamline Building Requirements - ensuring building requirements are the same throughout BC by establishing the Province as the sole authority to create building requirements.
- 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 federal lands.
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.
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