Saanich’s proposed building code changes come under fire

VRBA head says changes to energy efficiency standards will bring up to $100,000 in additional costs

The head of a group representing Greater Victoria builders publicly attacked the proposed building code changes that promise to reduce emissions responsible for climate change, but could also raise the net cost of housing.

“Fast tracking energy efficiency is both irresponsible and costly,” said Case Edge, executive director of the Victoria Residential Builders Association (VRBA).

Saanich last month asked staff to consult with builders and others about implementing the second phase of implementing the B.C. Energy Step Code.

It consists out of five steps designed to improve the energy efficiency of new buildings with the stated goal of making all new buildings by 2032 net-zero energy ready. Net zero energy ready buildings are buildings that could (with additional measures) generate enough energy onsite to meet their own energy needs.

The provincial government introduced the code in 2017, and Saanich staff have identified it as an attractive tool in reducing the community’s greenhouse gas emissions, as buildings account for a sizable share of community greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions — in the case of Saanich 30 per cent.

But Edge warned the code will undermine housing affordability, without addressing climate change.

At issue are competing claims from the provincial government and VRBA. Edge wrote in an earlier letter the additional cost of a genuine passive home meeting the highest standard of the Step Code (Step 5) would range between $55,410 and $110,820 — far above the government’s estimate of $17,450.

He repeated this claim during his presentation. “You know and everybody in this room knows that you cannot build a Tier 5, passive home for an additional $17,000 above code,” he said.

Edge said his own survey of “real builders” shows additional costs will range between at least $55,000 to $110,000. In this market, you can bet the higher number.”

Edge also predicted that the new code would not significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “It doesn’t effectively address climate change,” he said.

The proposed code also violates the agreement to harmonize the provincial building code with national building code

“National diligence is therefore ignored, undermining consumer protection,” he said. “Step Code is enabling 161 municipalities to invoke their own level of energy efficiency outside the national building code, where diligence is done, and the expertise is. It is not [with] councils or their staff.”

The code also threatens to expose municipalities to additional legal liabilities, he said.

Subject to final council approval later this year following input, all new Part 9 buildings would have to achieve Step 1 of the code by November 1, 2018. Part 9 buildings include single family homes, duplexes, town-homes, and small apartment buildings.

Edge also called on Saanich to change its inspection fees.

Saanich, like other municipalities, calculates fees on the value of construction, which includes contractors’ profit, workers’ compensation liability insurance, and other factors not related to the cost of inspection services, a practice that has yielded big surpluses over the years, he said.

Chief administrative officer Paul Thorkelsson said Saanich is aware of this concern, but suggested Edge overstated his case.

“What council has to understand is that this is not a surplus generated by building permits,” he said. Service fees support awide range of services that go beyond inspection, he said.

Thorkelsson made these comments as council approved a report into the building permit process due back June 2017.

Concerns about this process broke into view a year ago, when the brother owners of Saanich company Islands West Produce urged others to skip Saanich for Langford because municipal staff had been slow in issuing permits over the course of at least five-and-a-half years.

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

Just Posted

Tour de Victoria postpones 10th annual ride to 2021

Ride that draws more than 3,000 cyclists to Greater Victoria was set for August

Rural Saanich residents urged to take preventative steps ahead of wildfire season

Saanich Fire Department expects another hot, dry wildfire season

West Shore RCMP, ICBC target speeders and aggressive drivers

Hotspots include Sooke Road, Veterans Memorial Parkway and Colwood Corners

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

POLL: Do you agree with the provincial government’s decision to increase the minimum wage?

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a few more dollars to try… Continue reading

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Stolen gargoyle returns to its perch on central Vancouver Island yard

Petey, a concrete gargoyle statue, was returned by Nanaimo RCMP after being found by city crew

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

B.C. teacher reprimanded for sharing homophobic and sexist memes, making racist comments

Klaus Hardy Breslauer was accused of making a laundry list of concerning decisions as a science teacher

COVID-19: B.C. too dependent on foreign food production workers

New B.C. job site links unemployed with farm, seafood work

Most Read