Provincial government plans to modernize building code services to speed up construction projects

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By Robin MacLennan
Ontario Construction Report staff writer

Ontario is modernizing services related to the province’s building code, with a goal of speeding up the construction of new housing and building projects.

“For many years the building sector and the public have been calling on government to do a better job of providing a range of services related to the building code,” said Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing. “We are proposing some solutions and are launching a consultation to find out what people think.”

The $38 billion building industry sector is a key driver of Ontario’s economy and stakeholders have raised concerns about the need for better, modern and timely services and resources to support their ability to understand and apply the highly technical and complex Building Code requirements.

The proposal is divided into four themes:

Getting people working in the building sector

  • modernize current building code examination process to ensure professionals have required legal and technical knowledge
  • support municipalities with recruitment and retention of experienced building officials
  • potentially introduce use of certified professionals to ensure code compliance and streamline permit approval process

Promoting sustainability and transparency in the building code profession

  • transform public registry and registration to be more streamlined and user-friendly
  • require building code professionals to complete professional development activities
  • establish a comprehensive, compliance-based, enforcement framework to ensure that building code professionals are meeting their qualification and registration requirements

Building code administration and enforcement

  • enhance municipal enforcement to promote public safety
  • support local building service delivery by providing the option for smaller, rural, and/or northern municipalities to enter into an agreement with the administrative authority to deliver full or partial building services on their behalf
  • provide a more active enforcement approach in unincorporated areas

Improving building sector supports

  • promote a consistent understanding and application of building code requirements by looking into additional and more comprehensive tools and services in a timely manner
  • enable modern, digital services, which may include development of a digital version of the building code
  • improve the quality and quantity of building industry data and research

“A new administrative authority for building services in Ontario could address a range of municipal challenges. E-permitting, for example, would help streamline development,” said Jamie McGarvey, president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and mayor of Parry Sound.

“It could also help with capacity issues, training and retention of building officials, and improved enforcement of building codes. AMO looks forward to working with the Province to ensure the initiative meets these goals. To create safe and thriving communities, we need to make sure we get this right.”

The consultation closes November 25, 2019.

A guide is also available for anyone wanting to add a second unit, including a basement apartment, to their home. The guide is the first in a series being developed to encourage a wider range of options in housing.

“This guide is a useful tool to homeowners who are looking to create new rental units as well as the municipalities who approve the suites,” said Matt Farrell, president, Ontario Building Officials Association (OBOA). “It translates complex building code language into user-friendly information that will help all applicants as they move through the process of developing secondary suites. It needs to be at the front counter of every municipal office so building officials can advise residents accordingly.”

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