It is great to finally come to Nipawin for a SBOA conference. The agenda looks good with a nice variety of timely presentations to hear and discuss.

I have just returned from Hamilton where I met with our provincial counterparts at the ACBOA fall executive meeting. A number of items regarding training came out of the meetings. First item; Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing no longer develop or maintain building code training. In fact it has sent letters to various partners, such as the Ontario Building Officials Association and the Nova Scotia Building Officials Association requesting that they return all MMAH course materials. The courses that we had been delivering each winter are derived from those courses. Currently our agreement for provision of those courses is with ACBOA and to date ACBOA has not been asked to return the materials. ACBOA is asking for an opinion as to whether or not the request includes our materials which we obtained through NSBOA. This leaves us hanging with a possibility of not having any building code training for this winter. I believe Chris Gates is working on alternatives for this coming winter.

That was the bad news; now for some better news; for the past few years the executive at ACBOA have been exploring alternatives sources for code training. We have looked very seriously at using the vast resources of the International Code Council, to develop training based on the National Building Code. They have developed building code for use in the USA and in other countries. They have already developed exams for use in Canada that are being used in BC by the BOABC. We have also looked at using local colleges to develop and maintain the courses. It all comes down to money and how to fund it, none of it is cheap and most of it has to be paid for upfront. We may have found a corporate sponsor to help fund the development, ironically as a result of a perceived code interpretation issue. I can’t name the corporation but I can tell you that inconsistency in code interpretation is costing this very large international developer millions of dollars. They feel that if they can support a national code training program they can reap the savings of having consistent code interpretation across Canada. ACBOA is working hard to cultivate this possible relationship. Stay tuned for further updates.

This news is coupled with the news the Building Standards Branch is bringing to us this week that they have drafted amendments to the UBAS Act that will allow the Province’s Chief Building Official the ability to recognize and accept alternative training programs and credentials other than the BCTC and the infamous challenge exams. We will continue to work with Bill Hawkins and Building standards Branch to find common ground on acceptable training programs, exams and especially acceptance of National Certification certificates.

On the subject of National Certification, ACBOA has been researching options for data management and storage of National Certification records. We hope to have some resolution to this issue by next spring.

On a totally different subject; a few weeks ago there was an injury accident involving a deck that collapsed. In the CBC news article there were several comments attached and if I remember correctly 5 out of the 6 comments were basically “where was the building inspector?” A fellow building official reports that the municipality in which the incident took place doesn’t have a building bylaw and therefore no building official. This shows how important building officials are when they aren’t there, and also shows how important it is to thoroughly inspect decks. We have a responsibility to step up our campaign to educate municipalities on the importance of building bylaws and building officials. This reminds me that we will need SBOA members to man the booth at the SARM and SUMA conferences to be held in Regina this winter.

We recently lost Bob Dixon, a much respected fellow building official. It was Bob’s wish that donations in lieu of flowers be made to the Children’s Wish Foundation, so in Bob’s good name we will be passing the hat for a collection to be made to this very worthwhile cause.

Thanks again for supporting the SBOA and the good people of Nipawin by coming to the 2013 Fall Conference. Remember this is your SBOA if you have concerns or ideas about how it’s being run please let us know.

Dan Knutson
President, SBOA

Newsletter Fall 2013 (Full)