Building inspection proposed for rural areas

Columbia Shuswap Regional District: Service would require reviews for all new construction.

Charles Hamilton

The regional district is looking at implementing building inspection services to its electoral districts.

A report presented to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, Oct. 20 suggested having required inspections, and to hire inspectors for Electoral Areas B, C, and E.

Currently, the only building inspection service applied in the non-municipal areas of the CSRD is in Electoral Area F.

Construction for all types of development would be regulated under the proposed service, including: single family residential (including seasonal) multi-family residential (all types, including duplexes), commercial, industrial and institutional.

Allan Neilson, of Neilson-Welch Consulting Inc., said Area F has three required inspections, which is one of the lowest in the province, said Neilson.

The report suggests a phase-in approach, where the areas will start with three required inspections, the same as Electoral Area F and gradually increase to six over a two-year period.

The plan also suggests the hiring of two inspectors in addition to the one in Area F.

“The difficulty with having too many inspections is that it can been seen as heavy handed or onerous,” said Neilson.

The three inspections would take place at the footing construction stage (before concrete), the framing stage (before drywall) and at the completion stage. He also suggested, following the case of Electoral Area F, that inspections would be paid from both permits and taxation.

For a three-inspection-based model the predicted service cost would be $290,400, $162,600 of which would be generated from permits and other $127,800 would be acquired through tax requisition.

“We see building-permit revenues paying for a good chunk of the rates, revenues required, the cost required, but we also see a tax component,” said Neilson.

“The rationale for the that tax component is… that the benefits that are conferred by a building inspection service are kind of conferred not only on the individual home owner, or building owner, who is going to be build that particular piece of construction but also on the community around that owner. In that sense it is kind of a public good service,” he said.

Salmon Arm Mayor Nancy Cooper said the municipalities have been pushing for building inspection services in the electoral districts for years.

In the past, there has been issues with neighbourhood disputes and court cases, she said.

“I think this is really good news, but we have to respect there’s people out there… in the regional districts that don’t want inspections,” she said.

Director Larry Morgan of Electoral Area F, asked why the plan doesn’t implement all six inspections at once.

The City of Salmon Arm has seven required inspections, while the Regional District of Nanaimo has 12.

“This is a very controversial issue over the years and one of those hot-button issues.

“This is really a watershed moment for the regional district and if we do move forward with this, it really is going to fundamentally change our interactions with the public, and (the regional district) will have a more prominent role in the building environment,” said chief administrative officer Charles Hamilton.

There are also concerns with finding and hiring building inspectors, he said.

“We’re a little bit nervous, how are we doing to find those two, possibly three building inspectors.”

The proposed service start date is Jan. 1, 2018.