Chapter spotlight: Building Officials’ Association of British Columbia
The Building Officials’ Association of British Columbia (BOABC), a chartered chapter of the International Code Council since 1988, includes more than 675 members representing local government building officials and those involved in building design, construction, testing and research. The chapter is dedicated to serving the best interests of the public in building safety by moving forward with the highest standards in professionalism, competency and consistent practice in the building community.
A non-profit corporation, the BOABC is a member of the Alliance of Canadian Building Officials’ Association (ACBOA) and has been instrumental in supporting the ACBOA and its national initiative for recognized standard inspector certifications and training. In 2012, this partnership led to the development and delivery of seven training courses for building officials, designers and engineers in New Brunswick and across Canada. The BOABC provided exam questions that it developed with the International Code Council (ICC) to help found the national Canadian certification model. The development partnership of existing and new examinations between ICC and BOABC, based on the current National Building Code of Canada and the British Columbia Building Codes, resulted in a record number of certifications being issued to inspectors and leads the way for national certification and uniform training recognized throughout Canada. The BOABC is the only jurisdiction in Canada that has all of its certification examination testing services, including development and grading, done through a partnership with ICC.
The chapter continues to be a strong leader in working with other Canadian provinces in helping lay the foundation, supporting national certification, and recognizing the need to eliminate dissimilar and redundant provincial certifications. The BOABC and the ACBOA now offer a certification program that allows for greater professional recognition across Canada and easier professional mobility. The BOABC currently provides education, training and certification examinations for building officials, inspectors, plans examiners and building code consultants working throughout the Province of British Columbia and the Yukon Territory.
In addition, the Code Council developed six new general knowledge courses and three courses based on Canada’s National Building Code, used throughout Canada by way of agreements with ACBOA. These courses are used to train new and existing inspectors for certification and to help meet the growing demand for building officials in British Columbia and other Canadian jurisdictions. As more jurisdictions begin using the new national certification standard, building inspectors and plans examiners will b able to more easily work across Canada and the world to meet the record-breaking demand.
The BOABC also enjoys a long and successful working relationship the International Accreditation Service (IAS), a part of the ICC Family of Companies. In 2012 during the ICC Annual Conference in Phoenix, Ariz., the BOABC and IAS signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together to develop a formal plan to introduce the IAS Building Department Accreditation Program to building departments in Canada. The accreditation demonstrates building departments operate at the highest ethical, legal and technical standards.
The following year, the city of Kelowna, B.C., became the first Canadian municipality to achieve accreditation of its building department from IAS. The accreditation — based on IAS Accreditation Criteria for Building Departments in British Columbia, Canada (AC475) that was developed following the MOU signing — demonstrated that the city’s Development Service Department Building and Permitting Branch uses best practices in its plan review, permitting and inspection services.
The BOABC is also a member of ICC’s International Region XII, which meets every year during ICC’s Annual Conference. In addition to its regional meeting, many BOABC members participate in the global activities that ICC presents. During the 2015 ICC Annual Conference, BOABC Past President Ron Dickinson presented “Christchurch Rebuild — The Long Journey: The New Zealand response to the 22 February 2011 Christchurch Earthquake” during the ICC Global Forum.
The chapter is also very active in the ICC Global Membership Council Governing Committee. Two BOABC members — President Manjit Sohi and former BOABC Executive Director Richard Bushey — join fellow Canadians Lynn Balfour (Waterloo, Ontario) and Kevin Skauge (Saskatoon, S.K.) on the Governing Committee. Together, they work to promote building safety to many countries and regions around the world through an exchange of professional experiences.
Recently, Richard Bushey announced that he will retire from the Global Membership Council. As the first executive director of BOABC, he volunteered extensively on community disaster preparedness and relief efforts, especially related to earthquakes. He believes the Global Membership Council is a great opportunity to share ideas and resources and make connections throughout the international community. He is particularly supportive of ventures such as international swap programs, which recruit building officials from jurisdictions in Canada, for example, to help communities recovering from natural disasters in Christchurch, New Zealand.
“It’s amazing what the Council is able to achieve around the world,” Bushey said. “It’s not just a job. The Council really cares about communities, raising awareness about building codes and providing the resources to accomplish goals.”