Michael de Lint / RESCON
In my January 22 blog, I asked for information on Kafkaesque experiences with Ontario regulatory authorities.
We also want to more about what is working well – Ontario best practices.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
If we are to fix a problem we first need to acknowledge that we in fact have a problem, and what that problem looks like.
Red tape horror stories provide us with the real-life experiences that help us target reforms and best practices at real problems. The point of looking at system weaknesses is to build a stronger system. Exploring system deficiencies is not an act of cynicism but an act of optimism – a belief that Ontario can create a significantly better system.
Most developers and builders know that Ontario’s development and building approval system is very slow compared to many other comparable jurisdictions – this is why the province established a development approvals roundtable to improve Ontario’s system. And this is why the World Bank ranks Toronto 54th out of 190 economies in terms of building regulatory system efficiency and effectiveness. The result of slow approvals is reduced supply, and big affordability problems in the GTA.
ONTARIO’S SLOWER BUILDING INNOVATION
Everything is relative. When it comes to innovation, the issue is how fast can a jurisdiction respond to technically sound innovation in building technologies and materials that meet the intent of the building code. On this subject, RESCON president Richard Lyall says: “Being one of the last jurisdictions to allow what was once considered an innovative technology does not mean that jurisdiction is innovative – speed is important.”
RESCON president Richard Lyall
Ontario is also slower than many other jurisdictions in approving innovative building technologies. For example, while Quebec has already approved several tall timber projects, and British Columbia already has the world’s tallest timber building, Ontario has yet to approve a single tall timber building. Building approval systems in British Columbia and other jurisdictions appear to be more “innovation friendly” than Ontario’s system.
UBC’s Brock Commons mass timber building is shown when it was under construction. It is now completed and – at 18 storeys – is currently the world’s tallest timber building.
ONTARIO BEST PRACTICES TO BE INCLUDED IN MAY 2018 REPORT
Working with project consultant Tim Moore, retired architect and former chief building official in Markham, our plan is to publish a report by the end of May that includes best practices aimed at speeding up approvals and innovation in Ontario’s development and building sector.
The project steering group and the project working groups have already met to discuss problems with the current regulatory regime. The group also has discussed some examples of really good Ontario practices. Steering group chair Bryan Tuckey, the former BILD president and CEO, says: “We know there are some really good practices in Ontario, but too few people know about them.”
So, to complete the picture, we want to know more about what some municipalities and some agencies are already doing that are working very well and can be described in our May report. These Ontario best practices can be the basis for some of the best practice recommendations in the report.
Please send me your Ontario best practices stories in the coming weeks, or call me at the RESCON number listed below.
In the meantime, we will be initiating telephone conversations with developers and builders, regulatory authorities and others, on both their Kafkaesque experiences and the experiences with really good Ontario and global systems. We want to use these best practices as a template for Ontario-wide reforms.
Thanks in advance!
Michael de Lint is RESCON’s director of building regulatory reform and technical standards. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 905-760-7777, x. 114.
[AK1]We’ll have to keep an eye on this and update it (possibly) in the coming weeks; i.e., GBC and U of T.