Provincial Proposal Could Allow Developers to Hire Their Own Building Inspectors

building inspectors
Photo by Sean Driscoll on Unsplash

The City of Toronto isn’t on board with a provincial proposal that, if approved, would allow condo developers to hire their own independent building inspectors.

It’s a move city staff say could raise “potential conflicts of interest,” among other issues.

This past September, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing released a discussion paper that included a number of amendments that could be made to provincial building codes to enhance and streamline services.

This included the proposal of creating a “Certified Professionals Program,” which would allow architects and engineers to undergo additional training to perform some of the work currently done by city building inspectors, which the ministry says would “ensure code compliance and streamline the permit approval process.”

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However, Toronto’s Chief Building Official and Executive Director, Will Johnston, said in a report that will be considered by the city’s planning and housing committee on Wednesday, that he can’t support a program “whereby builders would be allowed through legislation to hire designers (who are also architects and professional engineers) to assume the plan review and inspection roles and responsibilities on behalf of municipalities.”

“While it is important to rely on design professionals to streamline the process, there are a number of concerns with this model, including potential conflicts of interest,” said Johnston, adding, “The consultation did not contain any proposals to amend the Ontario Fire Code, the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, or the role of the Office of the Fire Marshal.”

Johnston said Toronto residents rely on the expertise of qualified staff for an independent and objective review of construction. “This regulatory oversight by our building inspectors provides the public with assurance that the buildings where they live, work and visit meet all fire and life standard requirements while achieving other code objectives such as environmental protections and accessibility.”

In the discussion paper, the ministry said stakeholders have indicated that “lengthy approval processes delay the construction of buildings, costing significant time and money.”

The ministry added that the provincial government is “committed to streamlining the development approval process, including building permit approvals.”

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This is where the proposed Certified Professionals Program could come into play, taking notes from British Columbia’s Certified Professional program.

The program in BC currently allows engineers and architects who have taken additional building code training and examinations to review building plans and perform site inspections for large buildings to support the building permit process.

The proposal is scheduled to be discussed at Wednesday’s meeting of the planning and housing committee.

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