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

District of Saanich

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

Just Posted

Saanich Police respond to petition for new police agency on Lindsay Buziak murder case

Petition asks Public Safety Minister to to help find justice for slain realtor

Third time lucky for Freedom Mobile cell tower in Sooke

Council approves tower after cell provider applies multiple times

Petition calls for suspension of Victoria councillor Ben Isitt

Isitt says petition ‘does not provide a reliable barometer of public opinion’

Grave site at Ross Bay Cemetery vandalized overnight

Graffiti found on grave of Sir James Douglas

T’Sou-ke First Nation mired in legal woes over gas station development

Claims and counterclaims leave sub-contractors unpaid

Health officials confirm sixth COVID-19 case in B.C.

Woman remains in isolation as Fraser Health officials investigate

Study says flu vaccine protected most people during unusual influenza season

Test-negative method was pioneered by the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2004

Saskatchewan and B.C. reach championship round at Scotties

British Columbia’s Corryn Brown locked up the last berth in Pool B

Resident discovers five discarded hog heads in Vancouver Island ditch

WARNING: Graphic image may be upsetting to some readers

Canadian Premier League announces 2020 home dates for eight-team circuit

Pacific FC hosts FC Edmonton on April 11 in Langford

B.C. lawyer, professor look to piloting a mental-health court

In November, Nova Scotia’s mental-health court program marked 10 years of existence

COLUMN: Not an expert on First Nations government structures? Then maybe you should calm down

Consider your knowledge about First Nations governance structures before getting really, really mad

Meet the Wet’suwet’en who want the Coastal GasLink pipeline

Supporters of the pipeline are upset only one side is being heard nationwide

Most Read