Coleman contradicts Campbell?

Earlier, in a letter to The Times Colonist, Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman wrote leaky condos problems "were not a result of the building code" - a statement supported by the 1998 Barrett commission. But that's not what Gordon Campbell told The Canadian Press's Steve Mertle 11 years ago, when commission released its recommendations. According to Mr. Mertle, the then Opposition leader said the government contributed to the leaky condo problem by not reviewing National Building Code standards, which are the province's responsibility. "There's no question the building code helped contribute to this problem by sealing water into the structure," the future premier was quoted as saying.

And Premier Campbell's caucus mate Olga Ilich was of the same opinion. While she was president of the Urban Development Institute, the industry group distributed a news release criticizing the then New Democrat administration for refusing to "accept that the current Building Code is partly responsible for the leaky condo crisis." The following is a complete copy of that news release.


- Government's refusal to act on Building Code prompts developers to seek other solutions

- Aim is also for a "Made-in-BC" Building Code

VANCOUVER, Oct. 1 /CNW/ - The Urban Development Institute today urged B.C. municipalities to support a new initiative to help protect home buyers following the refusal by the Barrett Commission and the provincial government to accept that the current Building Code is partly responsible for the leaky condo crisis.

In an open letter to about 1,600 delegates to the Union of BC Municipalities Congress in Vancouver, UDI President Olga Ilich said some UDI members are looking at other ways to protect consumers against potential problems caused by government's continued neglect of the Building Code.

Her letter follows the disclosure earlier this week that the former head of the provincial government's Building Standards Branch, James Currie, started warning ministers as long ago as 1991 that the Building Code was inappropriate for parts of B.C. and could cause structures to rot. The Building Standards Branch was closed down two years ago to save money.

During a hearing of the Barrett Commission in Vancouver earlier this month Commission chair Dave Barrett told building materials warranty company executive Ian Naismith to "just leave the Building Code alone" when Naismith said the Code was partly to blame for the leaky condo crisis. UDI believes the Code is a major cause of the problem and for years has been urging the provincial government to make it more appropriate to B.C.'s climate.

In her letter to UBCM delegates today Ilich said some local authorities, including the City of Vancouver and the City of North Vancouver, are cooperating with developers to help the new initiative succeed, and urged other municipalities to do so as well.

"Specifically, you could help by reviewing your zoning by-laws, the calculation of FSR, overhang and encroachment restrictions, and several other regulations relating to the design and construction of enclosed balconies. By doing so you will help promote sound building envelope design practices that benefit consumers."

Ilich said the immediate benefit of these changes would be more peace of mind for consumers. However, UDI believes a permanent solution to the Building Code problem is urgently needed.

"We want you to join us in urging the provincial government to give us a `Made-in-B.C.' Building Code that addresses the specific needs of our climate. We also want the Building Standards Branch reinstated. These are the best ways to ensure adequate long-term protection for all consumers," she said in her letter.

The Urban Development Institute is a non-profit policy and research organization representing about 400 small and medium-sized businesses active in the residential construction industry in B.C.

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