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B. About the Building Code Commission

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Building Code Commission Process and Procedures

The process leading to a Commission hearing begins with the receipt of an application. Section 24 of the Building Code Act, 1992, provides that the Commission may determine disputes between a chief building official, inspector or registered code agency and an applicant for a permit, a holder of a permit, or a person to whom an order is given. Parties to an application to the Commission are typically builders, developers, architects, engineers, building owners as applicants, and municipal chief building officials, plan reviewers, building inspectors, registered code agencies and health officials as respondents.

Once an application is submitted, the Commission requests confirmation of the dispute from the respondent by sending them a Confirmation of Dispute form for completion and return. The Confirmation of Dispute is similar to the application form. Its purpose is twofold: 1) to verify that there is a dispute involving the technical requirements of the Building Code, and 2) to allow the Respondent to explain their position on the issue.

For disputes related to sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of the Building Code: once the Confirmation of Dispute is received, the Commission under their authority in subsection 24.(6) of the Building Code Act, 1992, requests a technical report from the Building and Development Branch of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. This report, known as the Technical Background Information memo, analyzes the matters raised by the parties with regard to the provisions of the Building Code identified by the parties as being relevant to the disputed matter. The Technical Background Information memo examines the history, technical considerations, and proposed amendments (if any) regarding the pertinent Building Code provision(s).

For disputes related to the legislated time frames: a Technical Background Information Memo is not requested, as no technical matters are involved in the dispute.

Hearing Procedures

Once all of the required information is received and has been provided to all parties to the hearing, a hearing is scheduled.

Commission hearings, while generally informal, are conducted in accordance with procedural rules established under the Building Code Act, 1992, and the Statutory Powers Procedure Act.

The Commission Chair, Vice-Chair, or Chair-Designate for the day conducts the hearing. Hearings begin with introductions of the parties and preliminary matters, such as identification of exhibits. Parties can represent themselves, but Applicants often choose a designated agent such as a contractor, architect, building and fire code consultant, or lawyer.

Once the hearing has concluded, the members of the panel deliberate on the evidence and render their decision. This decision is then provided to the parties to the hearing and is eventually posted on the Ministry’s website at http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page9815.aspx.

Members and Staff

As of March 31, 2017, the Commission has a total of 17 part-time members, including the Chair and one Vice-Chair. All Commission members are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council through an 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 preside over hearings and render decisions on disputes. The Chair and Vice-Chair also make administrative decisions regarding operations and relations with the Ministry.

Commission members are provided with learning opportunities throughout the year, such as attendance at the conference for The Society of Ontario Adjudicators and Regulators or in-house training provided by the Building and Development Branch on changes to the Building Code.

The Commission is provided with administrative, technical and secretarial support by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. 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 1.0 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) Commission Secretary, a 0.4 FTE Coordinator, Building Innovation, and a 0.4 FTE administrative assistant.

Throughout 2016-17, 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 14 new members, resulting in 13 new members being appointed to the Commission in November 2016 and one new member in February 2017.

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. It is important for the Commission to continue to solicit new members with expertise that reflects the full spectrum of technical disciplines represented in the Building Code. 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 has achieved 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.

2016 - 2017 Caseload

The Commission can hold from six to ten hearings in a month; however, the number of applications received determines the number of hearings the Commission needs to schedule. For the current reporting cycle, the Commission received 35 new applications and held 33 hearings.

The Commission has received the following number of applications over the last five years:

 Fiscal Year  Building Applications  Septic Applications  Permit Time Period Applications  Inspection Time Period Applications  Total Applications

2012-2013

29

4

1

0

34

2013-2014

29

5

6

0

40

2014-2015

30

4

1

0

35

2015-2016

42*

3

2

0

47

2016-2017

30

4

1

0

35

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Fiscal Year

 

Total Hearings

2012-2013

24

2013-2014

38

2014-2015

26

2015-2016

47*

2016-2017

33*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note:  difference in application vs. hearing totals may be attributed, in part, to matters being resolved between the parties before a hearing is held.

* In addition to the 42 building applications in 2015-2016, two more applications were referred to the Commission by the Superior Court of Justice, which resulted in ten additional hearing days. Further in 2016-2017 the same two applications resulted in seven additional hearing days.

In the current reporting cycle, the number of applications has remained relatively consistent with previous years. It should be noted that while the number of applications has been maintained, the complexity of applications continue to increase. In addition, the Commission has also seen an increase in the number of applications requiring it to examine and determine its jurisdiction and mandate, because of disputes that may extend beyond the technical requirements of the Building Code.

It should be noted that hearings for two separate matters referred to the Commission from the Superior Court of Justice under Section 25 of the Building Code Act, 1992, were heard in the 2016-2017 fiscal year. One of the court references was heard over one hearing day. However, the other court reference has required the Commission to hold the hearing over multiple days. As of March 31, 2017, seven additional hearing days were held with further hearing dates scheduled for the next fiscal year.