Earlier, we reported Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman defended the Campbell administration's decision to allow five and six storey wood-frame buildings in a letter to The Times Colonist. And, in the letter, he dismissed comparisons between that decision and British Columbia's leaky condos fiasco, writing that the problems with those structures "were not a result of the building code. They were caused by deficient materials and installation which did not comply with the code." But that's not the whole story, according to the 1998 commission of inquiry into the quality of condominium construction in British Columbia.
That commission, which was headed by former premier Dave Barrett, found a "poorly interpreted" code was partially responsible for that fiasco - as was a "lack of provincial monitoring to ensure accurate interpretation" of those rules. But, arguably more troubling, was the fact "building science, public and private sector professionals, including developers, general contractors, builders, architects, engineers, and municipal inspectors, were either unaware of how to employ the appropriate technology, or deliberately failed to create appropriate building designs ensuring that construction was of adequate quality."
As a result, given that assessment, you'd think the provincial government would take a cautious approach to allowing for five and six storey wood-frame buildings, rather than one which has been described as rushed by Jim Mutrie, who is chairing the Structural Engineers Association of British Columbia's six storey committee.
The following is a complete copy of the minister's letter.
I am writing in response to the editorial "Tall wood building caution," (Feb. 4).
Increasing the height of wood buildings is part of the province's efforts to increase environmental sustainability and expand domestic markets for B.C. wood products.
Recent changes to the building code open new opportunities for communities and builders. These changes were developed after careful consultation with building experts in B.C. and internationally. Through two stakeholder meetings and seven technical advisory group meetings, experts dealt with fire safety, structural, seismic, shrinkage and building envelope issues.
The editorial also makes reference to leaky condos. These problems were not a result of the building code. They were caused by deficient materials and installation which did not comply with the code.
Minister of Housing