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B. About The Building Materials Evaluation Commission

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Building Materials Evaluation Commission Process and Procedure

Applications for authorization are submitted to the Commission by manufacturers of materials, systems or building designs.

The Commission makes decisions on applications, but subcommittees are usually established to carry out detailed evaluations and report to the Commission. The subcommittees typically consist of Commission members who are familiar with, and/or expert in, the field of technology associated with the application. The Commission may request comments from Ministry of Municipal Affairs’ technical staff or other research or standards issuing bodies.

Generally, the Commission holds one meeting each month, with approximately two to four subcommittee meetings in that same period. The issuance of decisions by the Commission usually takes between 90 and 120 days, depending on the complexity of the application and the additional information required of the applicants, as well as the timeliness of their response(s).

Members and Staff

As of March 2017, the Commission has 12 part-time members, which includes the Chair. All members are appointed by Order in Council. Current Management Board of Cabinet Directives permit individuals appointed to the Commission to serve a combined term of appointment of up to 10 years. Commission members attend monthly meetings and subcommittee meetings and make decisions on applications for authorizations. The Chair and Vice-Chair are also responsible for making administrative decisions regarding operations and relations with the Ministry.

The following divisions of the Ministry support the Commission:

  • the Municipal Services Division’s Building and Development Branch;
  • the Business Management Division’s Corporate Services Branch, and Controllership and Financial Planning Branch;
  • Legal Services Branch; and
  • Community Services I&IT Cluster.

The direct support staff assigned by the Ministry to the Commission consist of a 0.8 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) Commission Secretary, a 0.4 FTE Coordinator, Building Innovation, and a 0.4 FTE administrative assistant.

Throughout 2016, the terms of appointment for seven members expired and the members were no longer eligible to seek reappointment. The Commission Chair put forth recommendations on the appointment of seven new members, resulting in seven new members being appointed to the Commission in November 2016.

While these new appointments enable the Commission to continue to operate, it is still appropriate to try and stagger the terms of appointment for Commission so that Orders in Council expire in smaller groups. This will allow for newly appointed members to be mentored by experienced members.

In addition to ensuring an adequate number of members, the Commission must also work at maintaining the knowledge base of its membership so it is important for the Commission to continue to solicit new members with expertise that reflects the full spectrum of technical disciplines (e.g. plumbing, mechanical systems, on-site sewage systems,). As described in the Memorandum of Understanding, the role of the Chair includes keeping the Minister informed of upcoming appointment vacancies and providing recommendations for appointments and/or reappointments to the Commission.

Further, the Commission will need to work towards achieving the gender diversity target set by the Ontario government that, by 2019, women should make up at least 40% of all appointments to every provincial agency, board and commission.

Caseload

The chart below provides a summary of the Commission’s caseload over the last five years:

Chart

  Fiscal
  Year

Applications  
Received  

Authorizations  
Issued  
Authorizations  
Amended or  
Revised  

Authorizations  
Revoked  
2012-2013 4   3   36   57  
2013-2014 14   6   4   7  
2014-2015 6   5   2   21  
2015-2016 5   3   1   4  
2016-2017 3   3   6   11  

 

The rate of applications to the Commission has had some fluctuations during the past five fiscal years. A marked increase is noted for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which may, in part, be the result of the 2012 Building Code coming into force on January 1, 2014. The Commission heard that staff regularly communicate with potential applicants, by way of telephone and email, regarding the Commission’s application process, timing of decisions, and fees; however, these enquires do not lead to applications. The Commission notes that the decrease in the number of applications received for the current fiscal year may be the result of the annual increases in the application fee.

In addition to the new applications noted above, the Commission also considers requests for amendments to existing authorizations and reviews its authorizations for possible revocation. Applications for amendment are processed in much the same manner as a new application. The Commission reviews and evaluates the details of the proposed amendment as innovative products, systems and designs are modified and updated. The process for review and revocation adds to the workload of the Commission and its staff.

While the application rate has decreased, both the technical and procedural complexity of the applications have increased, which result in lengthier reviews. The work required to communicate between the Commission and applicants for authorizations has increased, in that the correspondence prepared to provide the reasoning behind the denial of an authorization, or the denial of part of an authorization, has become much more detailed. Further, the number of occasions where the Commission has had to undertake a significant jurisdictional review of an application has increased. All of these factors have an impact on the number of subcommittee meetings required to fully evaluate applications for new and innovative products.

The Commission launched two initiatives in an effort to manage and keep all its existing authorizations current.

The first exercise involved an attempt to contact each holder of a Building Materials Evaluation Commission authorization, dating back to 1976, to determine whether the authorization holder’s contact information on file with the Commission is up-to-date. Also, as part of this exercise, authorization holders were asked whether they still manufactured the innovative material, system or building design detailed in the authorization, and whether the Commission’s information relative to this product was current.

The second initiative related to the review of existing authorizations for redundancy. The first phase of this initiative was to review for redundancy with other approvals (i.e. Minister’s Ruling). The Commission completed this phase on January 30, 2014.

With the release of the 2012 Building Code, having an effective date of January 2014, the Commission began the second phase of its review for duplications. The Commission is continuing with this work.

With the release of each new Building Code, the Commission will need to review its existing authorizations in an effort to eliminate authorizations that may no longer be required.

The Commission believes that this is a necessary exercise in order to ensure the credibility and accuracy of the information on its webpage. The Commission believes that the public needs to feel confident that the information in the authorizations is current and accurate.