A new Business Case Report on Building Inspection Services for Areas B, C and E from Neilson-Welch Consulting was presented at the October CSRD Board meeting. Allan Neilson provided a verbal overview of the report, and the key highlights are as follows:
• The vast majority of local governments across British Columbia have building inspection services in place. (Comment: In the CSRD we currently have building inspection in Area F.) While the BC Building Code applies to the entire province, its efficacy is dependent on local government enforcement.
• The benefits of building inspection include: protection of public health and safety, timely enforcement of regulations and bylaws, a method to ensure that all necessary permits and approvals are in place, a measure to promote equitable taxation, a mechanism to collect other fees owed, an opportunity to provide advice, and a means to provide statistical information.
• Alternatives to building inspection include involvement of the Home Protection Office, use of home inspectors, and siting permits. For a number of reasons, these alternative approaches are not being employed by other local governments in BC.
• A review of building inspection as it pertains to Area C noted that there is increased developmental pressure along the lakeshore and within Sorrento and Blind Bay, there is growing concern about the impact of development on water quality, ecosystems and recreational values, and there is an increase in regulatory violations in the development of lots subject to setback, height, lot coverage, density and other planning restrictions. (Comment: CSRD staff estimate that implementing building inspection would reduce bylaw complaint files by 50% in Area C.)
• A complete section of the report was dedicated to describing a proposed service. This section was quite detailed and cannot be well-covered here. Several options in the service implementation were offered for consideration.
• Steps to be taken in establishing this service were outlined along with recommendations for a community consultation program.
I think it’s very important for the residents of the South Shuswap to be fully informed and consulted in regards to building inspection. There are many implications and ramifications to be considered as this is a complex topic. I will be asking for a program of community education and consultation in 2017 on this topic.
Certainly a key change would be a move from “build it first and ask for forgiveness later…” to a more normal approach of plans being pre-approved, building being inspected and appropriate permits issued.
The Neilson-Welch report is available on the CSRD website at www.csrd.bc.ca under the News and Notices section if you would like more information.
-Paul Demenok is the Area C Director for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District