Agenda Index City of Vancouver



Vancouver City Council


Chief Building Official, in consultation with the Director of Legal Services


Amendments to the Building By-law relating to Building Envelope Professionals




Under the Vancouver Charter, Council may enact by-laws regulating the construction of buildings in Vancouver.


The purpose of this report is to seek Council approval of amendments to the Building By-law relating to Building Envelope Professionals.


Beginning in early 1996, when the impact of the multiple failures of the cladding systems of wood frame condominiums became apparent, the City implemented some immediate remedial measures. Among other things, the City required that ongoing inspections of the building envelope be performed by a qualified building envelope specialist acceptable to the City Building Inspector. At this time, the City maintained a list of acceptable building envelope specialists, there being no relevant program at the time for the training and certification of prospective building envelope specialists. It was anticipated that a certification program would be established in the future by the design professions to address this need.

Staff worked in close collaboration with the Architectural Institute of British Columbia (“AIBC”) and the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (“APEGBC”) to develop a certification process. This resulted in the establishment of the Joint Building Envelope Qualifications Committee of the AIBC and APEGBC which was authorized to award the designation “Building Envelope Professional” to candidates who had successfully completed a Building Envelope Professional course and whose qualifications and experience were accepted by a panel appointed by the Committee.

On June 17, 1999, Council approved a number of changes to the Building By-law including provisions to require that building envelope design and inspection be carried out by persons listed as Building Envelope Professionals. The By-law defined Building Envelope Professionals as:

Subsequently, a member of APEGBC commenced an action in the B.C. Supreme Court to set aside the decision of the Joint Building Envelope Qualifications Committee to deny him accreditation as a Building Envelope Professional. In the Court case, the jurisdiction of APEGBC to participate with the AIBC to accredit Building Envelope Professionals through the Joint Committee was challenged. The decision in the case was rendered last month. Although the Court acknowledged that the notion of the accreditation of Building Envelope Professionals was an “excellent one”, it concluded that the Engineers and Geoscientists Act precluded APEGBC from regulating its members through the existing Joint Building Envelope Qualifications Committee. The effect of the decision was to bring an end to the Committee and to set aside all of the decisions it had made concerning accreditation.

After the Court rendered this decision last month, staff met with representatives of APEGBC and the AIBC who indicated that the two organizations will be asking the Provincial Government to make legislative changes to provide the necessary statutory foundation for the Joint Building Qualifications Committee. Until that occurs, however, the Building By-law must be amended to reflect the recent Court decision. Accordingly, it is recommended that the definition of “Building Envelope Professional”, which is currently tied to accreditation by the Joint Building Envelope Qualifications Committee, be amended to refer solely to membership in the AIBC or APEGBC. If this amendment is made, reliance will be placed on the members of the two professions to comply with their codes of ethics which require that they only undertake assignments for which they are qualified by training or experience, and on the two professional associations to hold members professionally accountable for their work.

It is also recommended that Council support APEGBC and the AIBC as they seek the necessary statutory amendments to support their joint accreditation of Building Envelope Professionals, and authorize the Mayor to write to the two professional bodies expressing that support.

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