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Blueprint #1

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Dear OBOA Members:

On behalf of the Ontario Building Officials Association (OBOA), we wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Starting a new year, this initiates a regular communication to members by the President and Chief Administrative Officer called “Blueprint”, in which we will update members on the unfolding events and activities in support of the goals and objectives in the OBOA Strategic Plan 2012+ and the successful operation of your association.

Many of our members are returning to work following the holiday season with some uncertainty about various aspects of the new Code, Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) announcements, training courses, requalification, certification, and other matters. Lots of things are changing.  In one day in December, MMAH released four separate CodeNews editions!

Prior to the holiday season, we attended two OBOA Chapter Meetings - Pineridge & Wellington Waterloo.  We and other Board Directors will continue to communicate at Chapter meetings, with this newsletter providing additional communication to those members who are not regulars at Chapters.

Topics Include

1. MMAH User Fee Changes

Back in November, MMAH announced through CodeNews a proposal to increase user fees such as examination and registration fees. Additional, registration fees would apply annually and the fee increases effective Jan. 1, 2014. The CodeNews also stated feedback on the proposal would be accepted.

A quick review of the impact is, building officials and designers writing a BCIN exam has increased nearly doubled, from $80.00 to $150.00. The costs for building officials to register with the Ministry increased from $80.00 to $105.00, and registration costs are annual.

The Building and Development Branch issued this notice in late fall of 2013 with an effective date of January 1, 2014.  In early December, the OBOA submitted a two-page letter stating the fee increases and new annual fee are not supportable because there was no justification for the increase and, in some cases, the annual registration fee would be a hardship given the timing.  For many if not all municipalities the budget process starts well in-advance of November. The OBOA letter was copied to LMCBO and AMO. OBOA suspects that LMCBO and AMO expressed similar concerns.

The OBOA is not pleased the proposed user fees were all approved at the stated amounts, including the short process and lack of communication with affected parties.

One take-away or victory on the proposal is the proposed annual registration fee will take effect January 1, 2015. A delay in implementation by one (1) year allows municipal building departments to properly budget and provide explanation for the increase in departmental budgets.  The issues remain outstanding in terms of the necessity for the new annual registration fee but OBOA is pleased our letter provided impact on the proposal.

2. Elliot Lake Inquiry

The Elliot Lake Commission of Inquiry held three days of roundtable meetings with stakeholders in November.  The roundtables were to assist the Commissioner with what to recommend as changes to law or policy going forward.  OBOA participated strongly.  The report is expected to be public in October 2014.

MMAH has indicated that it believes that the Commission will recommend several sweeping changes to the existing system.  We concur.  The OBOA is working on advising the Ministry on these issues (starting with a meeting of your Executive with Director Brenda Lewis this week), and seizing opportunities for OBOA to be part of the solution while defending the interests of its members.

We believe the eight areas of Commission recommendation and government response are:

  1. New requirements in the Building Code Act and regulations for the maintenance of existing buildings;
  2. New mandatory inspection and reporting requirements for owners of existing buildings;
  3. A central registry for all mandatory reports;
  4. New enforcement requirements for CBOs to carry out these expanded duties in the area of existing buildings.  Generally strengthening CBO powers, including financial tools such as ability to levy penalties for non-compliance;
  5. Expanded provisions in the Act to deal with the new concept of “potentially” unsafe and the corresponding rights of CBOs to place orders to comply and produce reports;
  6. Expanded training and qualification requirements on all practitioners;
  7. Further clarification of the roles of property standards officers and building officials; and
  8. Formalization of the role and responsibilities of a prime consultant.

In all of these areas, we are advocating for the appropriate form of solution, and responding to opportunities for OBOA to play a role in delivering support to building officials and others in adapting to the new system requirements.

3. New OBOA Training Update

As previously reported, the OBOA is preparing new and 2012 Building Code compliant training material that will educate and increase building officials’ knowledge of the Building Code. Last week  marked the completion of three (3) Building Code courses; Large/Complex, House and Small Buildings.  Each course was successfully piloted at OBOA Head Office.

The first students to take the new combined Large/Complex Buildings course are in class this week.  The OBOA Board is very pleased with the innovation, content and relevance of the training material. Please check the OBOA Training Calendar for future course delivery.

4. 2012 Building Code (O.Reg. 332/12)

On January 1, the 2012 Building Code is the new document for building officials to administer and enforce. Building permit applications filed before this date are reviewed under the 2006 Building Code, and permit applications filed after Jan. 1/14 are reviewed for compliance per the 2012 Building Code.

As some of you are aware, the 2012 Building Code already includes amendments issued to date; including drain water recovery and new requirements for retirement homes (vulnerable occupancies). Here is a quick overview of the changes and amendments (O.Reg.) filed for quick reference;

•           O.Reg. 332/12; 2012 Building Code,
•           151/13; Fire safety in retirement homes & Supplementary Standards,
•           360/13; User Fee Changes,
•           361/13; Address errata to 332/12 & EIFS, F280 energy efficiency and wood-burning appliances,
•           368/13; Enhanced barrier free amendments

Note: within the above amendments there are varying effective dates

Building officials are reminded to subscribe to receive any/all amendments to the code and to ensure the code amendments are inserted. Amendments can also be viewed for no cost at E-laws.

5. Requalification/Knowledge Maintenance

In the announcement of the new 2012 Building Code (fall of 2012), MMAH noted that the new Building Code included a provision for building officials and designers to requalify through re-examination where changes warranted for each category.

Since the announcement, the OBOA continues to address this concern with MMAH staff. OBOA believes there are other methods to ensure knowledge maintenance that are far more successful than re-examination for building code practitioners (excluding architects and engineers).  Further, the OBOA fully supports education,

training and professional development of building officials that promote knowledge maintenance. However, the proposed method of re-examination of an individual after they demonstrated proficiency is not the most effective and efficient use of time, costs and resources.  Other associations have successfully implemented continuous education credits that form part of a knowledge maintenance program. The OBOA supports continuous education credit type programs and clearly does not support re-examination.
Efforts will continue to explain the importance of finding a solution that meets the needs of OBOA members, the MMAH and one that is efficient and effective. The OBOA welcomes the opportunity to partner with LMCBO on this important matter. This item is front and centre and will remain a top priority for the OBOA.

The good news is the 2012 Building Code is now in effect and the Director has not issued a letter to each BCIN holder to start the clock on a requalification period (18 months from the time the Director announces).  No action is good news. 

A knowledge maintenance program once a person is qualified, that includes a continuous education component, can work well and interface with the OBOA CBCO Certification Program.

6. CBCO Update (Certification)

With the recent MMAH announcement that the training delivery of the MMAH building code courses would be changing, the OBOA Certification Program experienced a short delay. The OBOA apologizes for this delay but the Association had to revise the program accordingly to ensure members would have a clear path to become certified, especially for those members well along in the process. The Certification Program Education Matrix required changes due to uncertainty of the MMAH training material.

The Certification Committee has completed the revisions and is awaiting OBOA Board approval on Feb. 7. Upon approval the membership can expect the full package to be posted on the OBOA website and a newsbyte update.  Members will notice that further enhancements to the Certification Program were completed such as the inclusion of streams. Streams allow for those building officials who perform specialized areas of practice such as sewage systems, plumbing, HVAC or fire protection to now qualify. 

Also, for those who are in the process of obtaining their CBCO Certification, if there are questions, please feel free to contact the OBOA head office.

This concludes the OBOA updates on a number of important projects that the OBOA Board of Directors and CAO are following.  If there are additional questions or comments, please feel free to contact either of us directly.

We look forward to our next communication.

Best Regards,

200 Marycroft Avenue, Unit 8, Woodbridge, ON L4L 5X4
Tel: (905) 264-1662, Fax: (905) 264-8696, Website: www.oboa.on.ca, E-mail: info@ oboa.on.ca