The City of Revelstoke is planning to allow builders and developers to hire their own private inspectors to oversee their building and engineering inspections.
At the regular council meeting on Tuesday, May 28, Revelstoke city council approved a request from staff to amend the building permit bylaw, allowing the use of a Registered Professional for Standard Building applications. A report to council from Director of Development Services Marianne Wade notes standard buildings are defined as buildings three storeys or less in building height and with a building area not exceeding 600 square metres. The category includes and used for major occupancies classified as: residential, business and personal services, mercantile or medium and low hazard industrial occupancies.
Watch: Director of Development Services Marianne Wade presents her plan to allow private building inspections:
In her report, Wade said the use of a registered professional provides an alternative for applicants wanting to speed up the building permit application process in the case of staff shortage or high volume workload in the building department. The amendment means applicants now have the option of either going through the normal process of using a qualified building official to have a building permit issued, or using a registered professional.
During council discussion on the matter, councillor Jackie Rhind asked if allowing the use of a registered professional would open the city up to more risk. Wade responded by saying it takes liability off the city, as the registered professional has to follow current BC Building Code compliance. The planning department elicited the services of a consultant, who is also the chief building inspector in Kelowna, to ensure the amended bylaw is fully compliant. She also noted that while the practice is new for Revelstoke it is done in a number of other B.C. communities.
Councillor Rob Elliot brought forward concerns that hiring a registered professional could increase already high costs of development for some individuals. Wade said introducing the option of using a registered professional was meant to provide flexibility to the existing bylaw. Councillor Mike Brooks-Hill also cited concerns about costs, but in the end said he was fully supportive of having the option available.
“I still think it’s a huge priority to have a building inspector,” said Brooks-Hill.
Both Mayor Gary Sulz and councillor Steven Cross spoke in favour of approving the amended bylaw, saying it would allow developers who already use engineering services to move ahead without delays.
“We’re not forcing anyone to go out and get an engineer. We are still looking for a building inspector. For those that need it we will still provide building inspection services,” said Sulz.