Builders, Sooke Fire Department at odds over regulations

Building Code requires space between houses

The District of Sooke is clinging to unneeded regulations that will ultimately drive up the cost of housing and reduce the size of new homes, according to the Sooke Builders Association.

Herb Haldane, representing the association, appealed to council Monday that it revisit the way the district applies a part of the B.C. Building Code that calls for a minimum of 2.4 metres clearance between houses.

The regulation was put in place as a fire prevention initiative in the belief that homes with less clearance may result in fires spreading from home to home.

That’s where Haldane insists the logic breaks down.

“They’ll let us build closer together, but if we do there can be no windows on the side of the house facing the adjacent house so natural light is eliminated on that side of the home and you might as well be building townhomes,” he said.

One way of avoiding the regulation’s restrictions on windows is for the homes to be equipped with sprinkler systems, a move that Haldane explained would require larger water lines to be run to the house and, together with the cost of the sprinkler system, would raise the price of the homes significantly.

The regulation can be waived if the fire department were to sign off on declaration of a 10-minute response time, something Fire Chief Kenn Mount said can’t be done without fundamentally changing the council-mandated level of service required of the fire department.

“Because of the structure of the department (utilizing volunteers) we would have to invest a lot of money in order to have a fire rated engine and the four staff to run it to a fire within that 10 minute window, and that’s what the code requires. There’s a question of whether the developers would accept any part of that cost. Otherwise, the developers benefit and the taxpayers end up paying for the changes,” said Mount.

That’s not to say that some compromise can’t be found, added Mount, but it has to be done right and will require more study and conversations with the builders.

“If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right,” he said.

From the perspective of Haldane and the other builders, it’s the young families looking to get into a home at a cost they can afford who will pay the price.

“Prices have gone through the roof in B.C. and we want to be able to offer young buyers reasonably sized homes that they can still afford. Any additions we have to make, like unneeded sprinkler systems, only serves to put those homes further out of reach,” Haldane said, adding that he is hopeful that the builders and the district administration can come to a reasonable compromise.

The issue was referred to staff for review. The report comes back to council in November.



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Santa’s Light parade glides through town on Saturday

Vancouver Island’s most popular Christmas parade is back for its 36th year

VIDEO: Innovating healthier homes

NZ Builders bring commercial concept into residential realm to improve energy efficiency and health

West Shore RCMP catch thieves in the act in Colwood

Thieves were trying to steal a utility trailer from the driveway of a home

FISHING ADVENTURES: Winter fishing starts to pick up

Crabbing in Sooke Harbour continues to be good with large male Dungeness around

Sooke girls volleyball squad places seventh at Island tourney

Dawn Gibson Sooke News Mirror The EMCS senior girls volleyball team made… Continue reading

VIDEO: Innovating healthier homes

NZ Builders bring commercial concept into residential realm to improve energy efficiency and health

Wet weather expected for much of coastal B.C.

The Weather Network is calling for up to 200mm of rain to fall in some areas of the South Coast and Vancouver Island

B.C. reporter reflects on covering Charles Manson

Charles Manson, leader of a murderous cult, died on Sunday at 83

Running back propels Spectrum Thunder into first Subway Bowl final

Brandon Robbins scores hat trick of touchdowns

ICBC overbilling for crash repairs not the problem, dealers say

Collision repair shops reject union claim of inflated costs

B.C. groups to address child sex abuse in sports

viaSport is organizing a full day of education in association with Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the Coaching Association of Canada.

Report sets exercise guidelines for young kids, including ‘tummy time’ for babies

Kids aged one to four should get at least three hours of physical activity throughout the day

Stampeders return to Grey Cup with 32-28 win over Edmonton Eskimos

The Stampeders will face the Toronto Argonauts next Sunday in Ottawa for the title

Nebraska approves TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline

Nebraska’s Public Service Commission approved TransCanada’s Keystone XL route in a close vote

Most Read