New building bylaw expected to add to construction costs in Penticton | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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New building bylaw expected to add to construction costs in Penticton

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August 22, 2018 - 3:30 PM

PENTICTON - A new and modernized building bylaw will move on to another round of stakeholder and public consultation after being reviewed by Penticton city council yesterday.

Fears of increased building costs were on the minds of council after hearing staff’s plan to include more professionals in the construction process at its meeting yesterday, Aug. 21.

City building and permitting manager Ken Kunka said the updated bylaw will provide clear expectations in simpler language to builders and residents seeking permit applications, permit issuance, fees and occupancy processes through the building department.

But more involvement of professionals is anticipated as the city strives towards proactive compliance and enforcement consistency. It’s expected design and construction costs will go up under the new legislation.

Kunka said the bylaw is the result of two years of industry consultation to date. He was seeking first reading from council prior to taking the document to the public and industry stakeholders.

The new bylaw is expected to provide increased consistency in enforcement, clarifying the role of the bylaw, permit exemptions, powers of the building official and responsibilities of the major players in a building project.

Kunka told council considerations being mulled by staff included incentives for builder constructing above minimum standards and a discount for delayed permit reviews.

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit questioned whether the use of more professionals would result in fewer inspections or a lessening of the city’s liability.

Kunka said he didn’t think the city would ever be able to avoid the potential for litigation, but said the new document would provide better clarification regarding each stakeholder’s responsibilities. He said the city could increase the professional industry discount should it ask for more expertise on a complex building project.

Coun. Max Picton also expressed concern and frustration about the need to involve more professionals in the building process.

“From a community standpoint, it sure does make the construction of new houses that much more unaffordable for people already struggling to get into the housing market,” he said, adding professionals are extremely expensive.

Kunka said staff were aware there was going to be a pushback at the additional cost of professionals, but said the city was “trying to find a happy medium for the needs of an engineer.”

Council agreed to first reading of the bylaw, which will be posted to the Shape Your City webpage. It will also be part of the city’s Juicy Topics open house on Aug. 28, prior to reviews with industry stakeholders.

The bylaw is expected to return to council Sept. 18 for second and third readings prior to adoption on Oct. 7.

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