Working Groups

The Province has facilitated two working groups to deal with common building requirements in local government bylaws that will have no legal effect under the Building Act: the Fire Sprinklers Working Group and the Energy Efficiency Working Group.

In early summer 2016, the Province also established the Building Officials Qualifications Working Group.

On this page, learn about:

Building Officials Qualifications Working Group

Building officials are employed by local governments to monitor the compliance of building design and construction with the BC Building Code (BCBC) and with requirements in local building bylaws. They review plans, issue building permits and inspect or monitor buildings under construction. The Building Act introduced qualification requirements to support building and plumbing officials' professionalism. It will improve consistency in how they interpret, apply and enforce the BC Building Code. The Act marks the first time any qualifications have been required for this group of building professionals.

Local governments have identified a range of issues related to the implementation of building official qualifications, including:

  • problems with recruitment
  • a shortage of experienced building officials and lack of new entrants
  • coverage during vacation or sick leave
  • impact of collective agreements on contracting out and related matters
  • who can accept Letters of Assurance
  • further definition of who must be qualified
  • access to training and education

The Province established the Building Officials Qualifications Working Group to consult with key stakeholders on implementation issues and to make recommendations for resolving these issues before regulations are drafted. The Group will complete its work in late fall 2016.

Qualification requirements for building officials came into force February 28, 2017 and take effect over a four-year transition period.

Energy Efficiency/Step Code Working Group

The Climate Leadership Plan released in August 2016 states that the Province is implementing a number of policies to encourage the development of net-zero buildings. One of those policies is to develop energy-efficiency requirements for new buildings that go beyond those in the BC Building Code. The Building and Safety Standards Branch convened a working group to examine how such a ‘Step Code’ could be implemented.

The Step Code that was proposed supports the Building Act, by providing a consistent provincial standard for energy efficiency to replace the wide range of existing policies and programs developed by local governments.

The Step Code also supports consumer choice by allowing designers and builders to use natural gas, electricity, or other energy sources for their project without imposing a penalty on this decision. This ‘fuel neutral’ approach provides builders with the flexibility to make energy-efficient buildings using all available technologies.

While the Building and Safety Standards Branch is directly involved, the report also recommends actions by other parties with a stake in this policy.

The BC Energy Step Code came into force in April 2017. The Energy Efficiency Working Group has transitioned to the Energy Step Code Council.

Fire Sprinklers Working Group

  • There are currently 30 local governments in British Columbia with bylaws containing fire sprinkler requirements that exceed those in the BC Building Code.
  • The Building and Safety Standards Branch and the Office of the Fire Commissioner co-chaired a Fire Sprinklers Working Group to facilitate local government and industry agreement on how to address the impending elimination of unique local government fire sprinkler requirements.
  • The Province approved the working group's four recommendations, with several amendments, as listed below.
  • The Province will begin drafting an opt-in fire sprinkler regulation shortly.

Fire Sprinkler Working Group Recommendations

1. Objective

  • Working group recommendation: that the regulation contain a unique objective that is distinct from BC Building Code and BC Fire Code objectives.
  • Provincial response: support recommendation.
  • Rationale for provincial response: a unique objective acknowledges that local government fire protection strategies address issues (such as property protection) that differ from Code objectives for health, safety, energy efficiency and accessibility.

2. Opt-in Regulation

  • Working group recommendation: that the Province enact a regulation containing a set of fire sprinkler requirements to which a local government could opt in.
  • Provincial response: support recommendation.
  • Rationale for provincial response: allowing all local governments to opt in at once will provide for the greatest level of consistency across British Columbia.

3. Tiered Structure

  • Working group recommendation: that the opt-in regulation contain three successive tiers. Each tier would encompass an increasing number of types or occupancies of buildings that would be sprinklered.  
  • Provincial response: that the opt-in regulation contain two tiers. More work is required to determine whether a third tier is necessary.
  • Rationale for provincial response:  multiple tiers provide some flexibility to local governments to require sprinklers beyond the BC Building Code, while continuing to ensure consistency of building requirements across British Columbia. 

4. Community Fire Risk Assessment

  • Working Group recommendation:  

a) that local governments be encouraged but not required to complete a community fire risk assessment prior to deciding to opt in;

b) that local governments be allowed to choose which community fire risk assessment they undertake; and

c) that the results of the community fire risk assessment not be evaluated.

  • Provincial response:  

a) that local governments be required to complete a community fire risk assessment prior to deciding to opt in;

b) that the community fire risk assessment be standardized; and

c) that more work is needed to determine the appropriate review and evaluation of the assessment.

  • Rationale for provincial response: requiring local governments to complete a standardized community fire risk assessment helps ensure that the opt-in process is fair, consistent and transparent while meeting the Building Act objective of consistency.  

Read the full report (PDF) of the Fire Sprinklers Working Group.

The content on this page is periodically updated by the Province of British Columbia per the date noted on the page: August 16, 2017.