CSRD reviews building permit concept

Staff pitch"light" building inspection policy for electoral areas.

A report on a building permit service framework for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District was tabled with electoral area directors at their Aug. 7 meeting in Salmon Arm.

Chief administrative officer Charles Hamilton said the draft report is the first of three phases in a process that began in 2011, and suggested directors accept it as information only.

“We’ll see what the composition of the board is after elections and look at it then,” he said of the report prepared by Juliet Anderton Consulting Inc. and Neison-Welch Consultants. “When we do get into presentations there are a lot of advantages, but there are disadvantages. From an enforcement point of view, we can’t capture everything that we would with full-scale inspection.”

When presented to rural directors three years ago, the concept was to explore a new approach to building approvals with a service that achieves greater compliance with local standards and community goals, while considering concerns related to the introduction of new development fees and regulations.

“The proposed service does not introduce the full range of building permit and inspection regulation,” reads the report summary. “When compared to comprehensive building permit and inspection services offered by local governments elsewhere in the province, the proposed service includes fewer activities subject to permit requirements, fewer application requirements and fewer inspections.”

Area F director Larry Morgan noted the North Shuswap does have some building inspection and inquired what the intent would be for Seymour Arm.

“To a large extent, we rely on you. Your preference might be to simply expand Area F and go with full inspection while Seymour Arm would have what we call ‘inspection light,” replied Hamilton.

Development services manager Gerald Christie noted CSRD could support expanding building inspection.

“It would require some additional support from development services staff, but could accommodate coverage,” he said. “The only caveat would be an increase in the travel budget for meals and gas.”

A zoning bylaw under construction now will be in place by 2015, and directors agreed an education program will have to be rolled out in electoral areas.

Morgan offered his support for consistency in Area F, something Christie agreed would prevent confusion.

Hamilton was pleased directors did not oppose the notion of building permits and inspection contained in the report as has been the case with some electoral area directors in the past.

“I am wearing you directors down, and am quite excited about that,” he laughed.

Area E director Rhona Martin reminded directors how much money has been laid out over the years for people who have built in the wrong place.

“But you hear from people that they have to wait too long for building inspectors,” she said. “They’re booked up, on vacation, on and on and on. It’s frustrating.”

Area C director Paul Demenok agreed it would be appropriate to delay detailed discussion on the report until after the election, and asked Hamilton what effect the province’s recently announced plan to introduce a new building code would have on the CSRD plan.

In June, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities advised councils and boards the province intends to implement a uniform building code and amend the Community Charter to eliminate local government concurrent authority in this area.

In the current system, local governments can enact bylaws that meet or exceed building code standards appropriate to the community’s needs. But under the uniform building code, the province has sole authority.

Local government is expected to eliminate all technical building requirements in its bylaws that are inconsistent with the code and local government building officials will be required to meet mandatory provincial qualification requirements to ensure consistent code interpretation and compliance.

Hamilton said with only one CSRD electoral area having building inspection at this time, getting a qualified person to fulfill the obligations of the province’s code will be difficult.

Demenok meanwhile, offered strong report for the CSRD draft report.

“There are so many situations in Area C that are build-first ask forgiveness later,” he said. “I think we’ll have to invest a substantial sum on education and marketing.”

Christie pointed out his staff is getting a more positive response in asking for regulations.

“I don’t know if it’s because they’re being caught more,” he said. “I’ve only been here four years but staff is saying there has been a change in attitude.”


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