Almost 70 per cent of Saanich residents own their homes. The number of renters, however, have gone up. (Derek Ford / District of Saanich) Local building industry leaders fear that the pending introduction of a new building code will raise the cost of housing. Derek Ford / District of Saanich

Saanich hears mixed reviews about new voluntary building code

New code promises to improve energy efficiency but comes at a cost

Saanich has all but approved a new voluntary building code that promises to improve energy efficiency but not after hearing concerns from industry leaders.

“It adds significant costs, does little to address climate change, ignores potential unintended consequences, [and] increases liability risks for Saanich’s taxpayers,” said Casey Edge, executive director of the Victoria Residential Builders Association (VRBA), who asked Saanich to delay implementation pending completion of a review of Canada’s National Building Code.

Edge also questioned cost estimates concerning the implementation of Step Code. He dismissed claims that a Step 5 home would cost some $17,400 more to build. A survey of home builders including those who build green and passive homes revealed additional costs of at least $55,000 to $110,000.

“In this market, you can bet on the high side,” he added.

RELATED: Report recommends new building code for Saanich

Councillors also heard a comparable concern from John Sercombe of the Limona Group. While he praised the general intention of the code, he fears its impact on individuals looking to enter the housing market.

“I can tell you there is a huge population of young people, who can never afford these homes,” he said. “What we build to code today, is a good home. It is energy efficient. It is not zero, but it is a good home.”

The municipality cannot lose sight of affordability, he added.

Edge and Sercombe reiterated many familiar industry concerns with the code but council also heard from other industry leaders, including Mark Bernhardt, president of the local chapter of the Canadian Home Builders Association; Robert LePage, a building physicist; Nino Barbon, a prominent local developer; and Jack Meredith, president at Healthy Green Buildings; among others. They endorsed the code, with some speakers such as Barbon calling for a quicker pace in its implementation in light of the threat that climate change poses.

RELATED: Building code changes could raise housing costs in Saanich

Pending final ratification, Saanich will require all new Part 9 buildings (most buildings three storeys and under in height and with a footprint of 600-square-metres or less) to achieve Step 1 by June 1, 2019 and Step 3 by Jan. 1, 2020, with all small single family dwellings excluded. Single-family dwellings must instead meet the less onerous Step 2 by Jan. 1, 2020.

All new Part 3 buildings (buildings exceeding 600-square-metres in area or exceeding three storeys in building height) must achieve Step 1 by June 1, 2019. Wood-framed buildings six storeys and under much achieve Step 3 by Jan.1, 2020. Concrete high-rise over six storeys must achieve the less onerous Step 2 by Jan. 1, 2020.

Rebecca Newlove, Saanich’s manager of sustainability, said ensuring affordability was one of the considerations in these changes, but also noted that the question of housing affordability involves a variety of factors.

The Step Code is a voluntary provincial building code for new homes. The code consists of five steps designed to improve the energy efficiency of new buildings with the stated goal of making all new buildings ready for net-zero energy (Step 5) by 2032. Net zero energy ready buildings are buildings that could (with additional measures) generate enough energy on site to meet their own energy needs.

If Saanich were to ratify the code at its next formal council meeting, it would follow the City of Victoria in adopting the code. But regional support for the code isn’t unanimous as Langford has publicly opted against it.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Single parent resource centre continues operations in partially-condemned building

Victoria’s 1Up Single Parent Resource Centre moves back into heritage home

Annual Oak Bay Collector Car Festival expects 15,000 spectators

July 28 show features a pair of super cars that won prestigious awards at the Detroit Autorama show

Townhouses on the rise in popularity in Greater Victoria

A report finds 152 townhouse units in the construction pipeline and coming onto market in 2020.

‘More animals could have a chance:’ Victoria Humane Society in desperate need of a home

Animal rescue currently has 163 animals in foster and volunteer homes

VIDEO: Bystander training gains traction as tool to prevent sexual harassment, violence

Julia Gartley was sexually assaulted after an event, and no one stepped in to help

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read