No Municipal Manoeuvres

British Columbia’s highest court has said that municipalities cannot ignore safety requirements established by professional regulation legislation: Architectural Institute of British Columbia v. Langford (City), 2021 BCCA 261 (CanLII), https://canlii.ca/t/jgp72. Under provincial legislation, certain buildings must be designed by licensed architects. Some municipalities in the province issue building permits that do not comply with this requirement. The municipalities argue that their legislation give building officials discretion to issue permits without reference to the legislation regulating architects. The municipalities also argued that professional legislation regulates architects, not buildings.

The Court disagreed and upheld a declaration that the issuance of building permits for structures that require architectural design is not permitted.

These provisions are safety standards that limit the exercise of discretion by any delegated decision maker tasked with the authority to approve the construction of buildings that fall within the statutory definition. On the face of the legislation, and having in mind the existing jurisprudence, the Act does constrain the building inspectors. No reasonable analysis has been suggested to support a contrary conclusion. It is not enough to simply state that the City is of a different view.

This case suggests that municipalities cannot ignore health and safety requirements established in provincial legislation regulating professions.

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