Case Edge, executive director of the Victoria Residential Builders Association (VRBA), questions Saanich’s move towards a new building code. (Black Press File)

Head of Greater Victoria builders critical of stricter climate policy

Casey Edge says Step Code will raise cost of housing without addressing climate change

The head of the association representing Greater Victoria builders questions the use of climate change as a pretext to introduce a new building code that would raise housing costs without addressing climate change while increasing liability.

Casey Edge, executive director of the Victoria Residential Builders Association (VRBA), said a climate mitigation workshop organized by Saanich for key stakeholders this week was a “[waste] of time” because it had the purpose to support what he called the “ill-advised” Step Code, an optional building code designed to improve the energy efficiency of new buildings.

Edge — who “briefly attended” the workshop — said it was not the appropriate venue to make recommendations on major building code changes like Step Code, because it lacks expertise.

“Saanich’s Climate Action Workshop is a classic case of bad policy development,” he said. “[Government] often does this by assembling people with little knowledge of a subject like building envelope construction and then asks if the group wants to change construction practices, citing benefits like energy efficiency. If the group decides it’s a good idea, then ‘consensus’ determines support for the new policy, regardless if one person in the group with actual subject knowledge disagrees.”

The District of Saanich late last year launched an ongoing consultation process into Step Code, and the City of Victoria earlier this year adopted the code, which works like a ladder, with each of the five steps representing a higher level of energy efficiency. A single-family home at Step 5 would have net-zero emissions of greenhouses gases (GHG) responsible for climate change.

Local builders are already constructing energy-efficient homes at affordable prices, said Edge, in questioning claims the code will not significantly increase housing costs.

“Step Code estimates are much too low,” he said. “The [provincial government] claims a Tier 5 [home] costs only $17,450 more to build. Our survey of builders reveals costs of at least $55,000 to $110,000. In this market, bet on the high side.”

These additional costs will not pay off in lower GHGs emissions.

“The real gains in GHG reduction are made from retrofits to older homes, the vast majority of Saanich’s housing stock,” he said. “Step Code applies to new construction only. The [provincial government]

Step Code also exposes municipalities – and by extension citizens – to “significant” liabilities, he said.

If the Step Code, a voluntary, rather than a mandatory building code, leads to problems, courts could hold municipalities and their taxpayers responsible, he said, citing recent rulings.

Rebecca Newlove, Saanich’s manager of sustainability, said the workshop represents only one part of a comprehensive engagement strategy for the development of Saanich’s climate action plan. It calls on Saanich to use 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent in 2050, as part of a larger response.

She said the workshop included experts in a diverse range of climate topics covering transportation, buildings, waste and environment.

“We have received some very positive feedback on the engagement event to date,” she said.

Buildings account for approximately 30 per cent of Saanich’s GHGs, with transportation accounting for 58 per cent, waste and others being 11 per cent, she said. “As such, the [workshop] focused on a multitude of actions to address GHG emissions in each of these sectors, buildings being only part of the conversation,” she said.

“It is important to note that there has been considerable engagement in the region with local building industry on the BC Energy Step Code separate to the updated Climate Plan project,” she added.

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Garden-sharing map connects Victoria landowners and gardeners

U-Map created by Young Agrarians after COVID-19 created uptick in garden matching requests

Saanich wins award for climate plan cut from 2020 budget

‘It’s truly an exceptional plan,’ says councillor disappointed with lack of funding

Oak Bay Grade 8 students end time at Monterey with drive-through goodbye

School holds socially-distanced completion ceremony

CRD warns of toxic algae bloom at Thetis Lake Regional Park

Visitors advised to avoid swimming in lake, keep pets out of water

Saanich police, pound respond to possible cougar sighting

Cougar possibly seen in area of 4500-block of Chatterton Way

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Most Read