May is building safety month, and Ontario is focussed on recruiting more building codes officials

obao website
Screen shot from the OBAO website

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Since 1976 Ontario’s Building Code has been setting a minimum standard for building projects in the province. Ontario Building Officials Association (OBOA) says that’s why Ontarians don’t worry about going to work, school, and play in buildings here: we trust that they’re built safe and sound.

Still, new permits are required for all building alterations, additions, and changes of use in a building, and vigilance is needed to ensure this happens, every time. That’s why OBOA wants each municipality to join with them in proclaiming May Building Safety Month, to increase public awareness of the Ontario Building Code, the importance in obtaining building permits and the efforts of municipal building officials.

This year, OBOA is focussing on one particular aspect of the building code and its enforcement: the career opportunities available in the field.

“We are retiring like mad,” says Aubrey LeBlanc, chief administrative officer at OBOA. “Within the next two years, up to 50 percent of the building officials in Ontario are eligible to retire.

LeBlanc says people seem to forget that building officials play a key role within each municipality, and overlook it as a potential job. As a result, many building officials tend to come into the role later in life, as a second career after they’ve been a contractor or builder or architect. However, having a background in building codes isn’t a prerequisite for training as a building code official. LeBlanc says any technical background serves as a good stepping stone into the role.

“We qualify and train most of the building officials in Ontario,” LeBlanc says, and rather than attracting new hires from building professions, they’re focussed on training people from scratch.

So far, the job seems to appeal to the young adults OBOA has polled, LeBlanc says. “There are some real benefits. It’s really on the ground stuff, you see the product of your efforts.”

“We know the time is ripe for more generalist educated kids to come in to the profession so we’re really looking forward to the changes that’ll happen over the next decade or two,” LeBlanc says.

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