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Blueprint #6

Friday, November 6th, 2015

Recognizing that not everyone was able to attend the 2015 AMTS in Toronto, Blueprint #6 is a reprise of outgoing President Seiling's summary thoughts and incoming President Alan Shaw's expectations looking forward, which formed part of their remarks on October 7, 2015 at the President's Dinner.
1. Mike Seiling remarks

As OBOA President, I felt it was important to first acknowledge my predecessor, Leo Cusumano for providing strong leadership as Immediate Past President and the architect of the OBOA Strategic Plan. Leo left big shoes to fill.
I would like to thank the Ontario Building officials Association for the opportunity and trust to lead the Association as your President. This two-year term has swept by quickly. Before stepping aside I would like to reflect, and acknowledge the efforts of the many building officials who all contribute to advancing the profession and building association excellence, which are two of the Strategic Priorities in the OBOA Strategic Plan. One lesson learned at the beginning was to consider the whole vs individual solutions without collaboration.
It's not possible to mention all the collaborations at this time; however, here are a few highlights:
On Oct. 6, at the Annual General Meeting, the Education and Professional Development co-chairs announced that the final piece of the OBOA training program was complete;

  • A 3000 question exam bank for our code courses,
  • eight new technical code courses completed to complement the twelve existing overview courses,
  • three new online courses to support distance learning to save municipal expenses and time away from office,
  • A brand new Instructor training course to coincide with updated training material to support student learning and boost BCIN qualification pass results,

The above referenced work is complete because 110+ members volunteered to support the training program. The Association is now able to offer a complete program to our members, peer associations and future customers, many of which attended the President's Dinner as OBOA guests. A professional training platform includes the best available code training, updated to current code, in-class or online with an exam. Our treasurer will tell you that this is sustainability. The president will advise that's association excellence! Maybe the two are the same thing.
The amazing piece is how quickly the members completed the work; in less than one year from the announcement, and the quality of work is second to none! Ladies and gentlemen this is my 2015 Association highlight of the year!
The Association is extremely pleased with the support for a new professional development program titled Leadership Day, launched only last year in Niagara Falls. It offers eadership training that fills a void in municipal development and that is specific to Chief Building officials, management staff and peer associations. The Oct. 7 Leadership Day focused on the Elliot Lake Inquiry and possible recommendations with stakeholders like architects, engineers and other Ministries. Another feature was that the entire program was a joint venture with the Large Municipal Chief Building officials. This is not the only joint venture between the two groups, LMCBO Chair Ralph Kaminski and I have co-signed other shared policy submissions to further demonstrate a unified voice.
The joint venture, or as I call it, building credibility and partnerships, is an efficient and effective use of time. The Board and CAO placed a significant amount of effort into procuring; building greater partnerships with peer associations such as;

  • Discussions with the architects, engineers and interior designers on the professional design chart,
  • Tarion and OHBA, Illegal Builder Pilot Project,
  • Professional Engineers of Ontario, Draft Structural Engineering Design Services submission,
  • International Code Council, ongoing support and new training material,
  • Ontario Association of Engineering Technicians and Technologists, consistent designer requirements,
  • Representing AMO on proposed government changes such as the Elliot Lake recommendations and,
  • The Alliance of Canadian Building officials Association and OBOA contract signed today (October 7) to support National training requirements built off the OBOA platform. Bet the Treasurer likes that deal too. This is all possible because of the Ontario asset that can be shared.
  • The TACBOC, LMCBO and OBOA joint website recently announced, that will further support the profession of building regulation, and,
  • Last but not least MMAH staff under the leadership of Brenda Lewis.

The list could go on and on, but my time is ending. What I ask that you take away is that the Association is using to new strategies to ultimately enhance building regulations and support public safety.
Looking back, I will never forget the unselfish support of the building officials who helped the Town of Angus after a tornado uprooted 105 families and homes. The acknowledgement letter from Minister McMeekin is a 2014 Association highlight!
Efforts to advocate on behalf of the members and communicate such efforts were utilized during the year, with some methods more successful than others, such as my attempts to use Twitter and Blueprint to keep members up to date. The most successful and rewarding communication was attending Chapter events to provide Association updates and to support knowledge transfer. Thank you for the warm welcome and hospitality when attending chapter events!
I look forward to encouraging from the sidelines, and supporting my friend and President- Elect Alan Shaw.
My time has gone quickly and proved to be very rewarding. I'll miss the role as OBOA president but strongly believe the time is right for change as the Association is on solid ground and heading in the right direction. I would like to acknowledge the fine support of OBOA head office staff Mike Leonard and Mike Gagne, especially CAO, Aubrey LeBlanc, the Board of Directors and the countless members who stepped up to make a difference.
I would like to thank my employer, the City of Kitchener, including my peers in the Building Division who worked tirelessly while I supported the Association. To my daughters Alexandra and Sara and my awesome partner Cara, thank you, for allowing me to invest time and effort into advancing the profession!
Thank you for the support shown to me over the past two years!
It was a pleasure to serve as your President! I ask you to extend that same support to Alan Shaw, OBOA President-Elect.
Thank you.

2. Alan Shaws remarks

It is an honour and a privilege to become the next president of this great Association. To think of the footsteps in which I am walking is truly humbling. I would like thank those who have helped me though my career and acknowledge everyone as a whole. You know who you are and I thank you.

I am going to take some time to tell you of some facts that I have found out over my career and time on the Board.

Fact number 1. No one grows up planning to become a building official.

For me it all started back in 1999 when I got a phone call. A friend let me know there was a job in the town he worked for and he thought I was the right guy for the job. So I asked what would the job be and he said chief building official.

At the time I was working for a small engineering firm in the north and had been working in remote communities in northwestern Ontario, I was ready for a change and thought why not.

Fact number 2. No one outside of our profession knows what we do.

In my first couple weeks of my new job I had problems. A contractor came up to me in the grocery store saying "you got to go see what they are doing at the fire station". The volunteer fire department had started an addition to the fire station without a permit.

Showing up on the site I noted work well on the way. They were using the concrete driveway with no footings, had framed the walls with donated lumber from the local mill not graded and no piece longer than four feet. But I was assured it was okay because the fire chief gave them the go ahead.

Anyone from a small town will tell you, taking on the volunteer fire department is a career killer. I needed help, so I phoned the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) and heard the phrase we all know so well, "ultimately it's up you as the authority having jurisdiction".

Fact number 3. No matter what your education or number of exams you pass nothing can really prepare you to be a Building official.

Looking for help I called a neighbouring CBO. He told me about my local chapter and invited me to a chapter meeting the following week. With the support of the chapter I weathered the storm and went on to have a very successful career in the municipality in addition to eventually becoming a volunteer fire fighter on the same department.

This is one of the greatest things that could have happened to me, being told of the local chapter. I spent four years as a member of the Sunset Country Chapter working my way to vice chair before moving south. Down south I joined the Southwestern Chapter where I was elected as chair, before stepping onto the OBOA Board in 2008.

As a result of this experience, I try to pay it forward and I will provide support and advice to those in our profession. As a building official, you are often set afloat by those in your own municipalities. Please know that members in this Association are there to help.

This Association's backbone is the chapter system. Chapters provide support, education and mentorship to their members. If you are not a member of a chapter, become one. If you are already a member, become active and pay it forward. This is how our profession will grow, and we will all benefit from this growth.

Let's go back the facts...

Fact 1 No one grows up wanting to be a building official

During my tenure as president we will continue to make inroads with the high schools, colleges and universities to present building regulation as an optional career, coming out of school.

Fact 2. No one outside of our profession knows what we do.

Moving forward we will work to educate those - both inside and outside our industry - on our roles and responsibilities. We will promote what we do and the importance of certification as evidence of superior qualification.

Fact 3 There are no classes to teach you how to be a building official.

The OBOA will continue to develop training material for both hard and soft skills and provide delivery of these courses throughout the province, and across the country. We will continue to assist in providing guidance and mentorship to one another, and we will be a strong voice in the marketplace, and drivers of change in our industry.

We look forward to developing new partnerships and strengthening existing ties with other associations and professions. This includes continuing to work with LMCBO and TACBOC in providing a united voice on many issues facing building regulators. To MMAH, I welcome the opportunity to continue our close relationships and efforts in providing better building regulations for the construction industry, and public safety as a whole. We will engage with several other Ministries to work together on common goals as well.

To Mike Seiling, my friend, you know how to make it hard on the next guy. Mike is one of the hardest working Presidents this Association has ever seen. I've heard people refer to him as the Eveready Bunny, workaholic and plain crazy. I know him as a professional, dedicated and passionate, but most importantly, a friend.

Finally I would like to thank the Board of Directors for their assistance and support. This is a team that you can be very proud of. Their dedication, knowledge and professionalism are amongst the highest I have seen in my eight years on the Board, and reflect the great things to come from your Association.

Your 2015-16 OBOA Directors and Corporate Officers are:

President, Board Chair and Director, Alan Shaw
Vice President and Director, Matt Farrell
Vice President and Director, Grant Brouwer
Secretary-Treasurer/Registrar and Director, Norm Allen
Immediate Past President and Director, Mike Seiling
Director, Andy Jones
Director, Todd Rogers
Director, Francois Couture
Director, Joyanne Beckett
Director, Mike Godin

Thank you.

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,

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