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The business of building begins evolution in Nelson with bylaw amendments

Council approved the slate of new Building Bylaw amendments at its last regular meeting, including new legislation on occupancy permits and the institution of energy conservation and greenhouse gas emission reduction for Part 9 buildings (houses and small buildings).

The building landscape of Nelson is evolving and the city has already begun implementing several changes, some of which could have far reaching effects.

The city recently passed several Building Bylaw amendments — at the recommendation of the Municipal Insurance Agency (MIA) — in order to comply with the newly instituted Provincial Building Act.

City council approved the slate of new Building Bylaw amendments at its last regular meeting, including new legislation on occupancy permits and the institution of energy conservation and greenhouse gas emission reduction for Part 9 buildings (houses and small buildings).

Five years ago the province passed new legislation known as the Building Act, with the intent of limiting the variations in the way the Building Code was applied within B.C. to “bring more consistency and remove the ability for local government to include legislation in their building bylaws inconsistent with the BC Building Code.”

The move was an attempt to remove regionalization of the building code — which had manifested over time in many jurisdictions — and create a more streamlined and homogenous basis for the construction industry.

Last year the Building Act came into full effect, effectively eliminating the legal “teeth” of any local bylaw that was not in congruence with the precepts laid out in the Act.

However, it was not an easy trip to travel for most areas to move from their own building bylaws to the provincial act, necessitating the drafting of a core building bylaw template that could be modified and adapted by local governments to replace their existing legislation.

A core bylaw template for smaller centres has been adopted by city staff to fit in Nelson, with a “focused effort to maintain any ‘unique to Nelson’ content that is permissible within the limitations of the Building Act,” noted a city staff report to council.

By using the core bylaw recommended by the Municipal Insurance Association “most of the content has been reviewed and vetted through its lawyers and advisors,” the report advised.

As well, the new Building Bylaw will enable the city to require new buildings to be constructed in a more energy efficient way by requiring minimum Step Code levels.

Nelsonites will be informed in advance that the bylaw is going into force as it contains the requirement for all Part 9 residential buildings to comply with minimum Step Code 1. The bylaw will go into effect on Aug. 1.

The new Building Bylaw will be posted online on the city’s website.

Turn and face the change

The city’s new Building Bylaw includes the following notable changes:

Introduction of occupancy permits

  • To conform more closely to the current accepted practice, most owners, lending institutions, insurance providers and the Homeowner Protection
  • Office expect jurisdictions to issue occupancy permits when buildings are safe to occupy.
  • This is different than just a final inspection which is all that is currently done.
  • Owners will in most cases have to pass their final inspection to receive an Occupancy permit.

Ability to regulate swimming pools and swimming pool fences

  • This would only be applied in a case where someone installs a large in ground type pool. Having this regulation ability was recommended by MIA.

Step Code

  • Addition of a section addressing energy conservation and greenhouse gas emission reduction enabling the city to require minimum levels of Step Code performance for new Part 9 buildings.

Worksafe BC related requirements

  • Introduction of regulation requiring owners to provide a hazardous materials assessment, clean air analysis summary and Worksafe BC inspection report when required, depending on the age of the building and nature of work being conducted.
  • This is to better assist Worksafe in ensuring safe work sites for workers.

Bylaw Notice Enforcement bylaw change

  • The amended Bylaw Notice Enforcement Bylaw retains most of the current named offences but renumbers them to align with the new Building Bylaw.
  • Additionally, two new offences are being added: one for “failure to install a swimming pool compliant fence;” and another for “failure to obtain inspection prior to concealing work.”
  • Further, two offences are being removed: one for “unauthorized sewage disposal;” and one for “unauthorized sewage disposal system.”
  • These two offences already exist in the sanitary sewer section of the Bylaw Notice Enforcement Bylaw and are therefore redundant and unnecessary.

— Source: City of Nelson