Floor count

Earlier, we reported regulatory bodies representing architects and engineers in British Columbia sent a letter expressing concern about the government's controversial promise to allow the construction of five and six storey wood-frame buildings. But, in an interview with Public Eye, Architectural Institute of British Columbia professional practice director Michael Ernest said government "has been pretty good" about responding to those concerns - hiring "several firms separately to look at any number of issues that are in that letter." And, at the same time, the Campbell administration is consulting with a number of advisory groups that were formed following a September 17 stakeholder meeting. But is all this costly work even necessary? Is there a demand for six storey wood-frame buildings?

"Are we driving this? No. Are the engineers driving this, building officials driving this? No," responded Mr. Ernest. "This is what happens every once and a while where some authority - whether it's local, regional or, in this case, provincial or ocassionally national - will have a bright idea to do something that might make sense. And I don't mean that facetiously at all. And, professionally, since we're setup in the public interest, we need to respond."

"So you're right. We throw the resources at it," he continued. "The government itself, I'm sure, is spending money for the consultants. It's also spending its own staff resources. My sense of it is they're applying a lot of staff resources to this - and for the second time in a year. Because the Green Building Code is the predecessor. And it practically stripped a lot of their staff off of a lot of other things. So, yeah, you're observation there is reasonably astute."

"What's driving this? It's not us. What's driving it, in some respects, might be marketplace. But what's driving it is the wood products industry and small towns with losses of jobs all over the province. I don't have too much doubt that's what's driving this."

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