Revelstoke’s rural representative for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is attempting to make good on his campaign promise to remove building inspection requirements in Area B.
David Brooks-Hill, Area B director, is asking for a partial removal of the requirement–for those outside the fire protection zone.
The fire protection zone includes most of the rural residents around Revelstoke. An agreement between the regional district and the city ensures that the Revelstoke fire department will respond to fires in that zone.
At the July 17 board meeting, the majority of directors, including Mayor Gary Sulz, voted against Brook-Hill’s motion to hold a referendum that could potentially have removed the building inspection requirement.
Never the less, Brooks-Hill said he will take on the petition himself.
Brooks-Hill said a referendum is the only way to make the changes, at this point. Though there are other routes, they require approval from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and he claims they have said they won’t make the change.
According to a spokesperson from the ministry, the province has a strong interest in building inspections due to concern for health and safety of residents and emergency personnel.
“The ministry’s advice to regional districts is that given the importance of the building inspection service, if an electoral area wants to be removed from this service, the Inspector of Municipalities requires a high level of approval from residents,” Melanie Kilpatrick said.
She confirmed that to remove a participant from the service requirements requires a referendum process or two-thirds agreement from participants on the board of directors and approval from the Inspector of Municipalities.
“Another way is through a residents’ petition plus two-thirds agreement of electoral area directors who are also participants in the service. This can be done without inspector approval.”
Whether or not building inspections are useful is not the question here, Brooks-Hill said. Rather, he believes that it isn’t reasonable for residents in Trout Lake and other rural areas in Area B to wait on a building inspector that is based in Salmon Arm. He said he could go on for hours listing all of the arguments he has but it comes down to an inefficient system.
Having building inspection makes it almost impossible for people to build their own home, Brooks-Hill said.
He has heard stories of families waiting on building inspections and having to delay projects for a year, forcing them to live in a camper over the winter.
Past director for Area B, Loni Parker, was part of the conversation that reinstated building inspection across the CSRD. At the moment Area’s C, B and E are all part of the regional district’s Building Inspection Service.