MR. CHAIRMAN: I call this meeting to order. We welcome the Nova Scotia Building Advisory Committee that has requested time from the committee to make a presentation. Perhaps we could just quickly go around and do an introduction of the members of the committee, and then we will turn it over to them for their presentation.
[The committee members introduced themselves.]
MR. CHAIRMAN: We do have, possibly, a couple more coming from the Liberal caucus. We will introduce them or they can introduce themselves when they arrive. If you would like to proceed with your presentation, we would certainly be pleased.
MR. PETER GREER: Good afternoon, Mr. Carey, and members of the Select Committee on Fire Safety. Thank you for making the time available for the Nova Scotia Building Advisory Committee to make this presentation today. My name is Peter Greer, Chairman of the Nova Scotia Building Advisory Committee, President of Local 83 of the Carpenters Union, and I am a business representative with the Carpenters N.S. and P.E.I. Regional Council.
I would like to take a moment to introduce the members who are in attendance today. I have Ed Thornhill, Manager of Permits and Inspections, Planning and Development for Halifax Regional Municipality, and he represents the Nova Scotia Building Officials Association. Also in attendance is Heather Corrigan, she is a Principal for Robertson MacLean Design Limited, and she is on the Committee of the Association of Nova Scotia Interior Designers. Unable to attend is Ralph Ferguson with the Disabled Persons Commission; Gerald Sampson, a Warden with the Municipality of Victoria, and he represents the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities; Bob Cormier, with the Office of the Fire Marshal; Ozzie Wile, representing the Atlantic Provinces Building Supply Dealers; Dermot Mulrooney, with the Association of Professional Engineers of Nova Scotia; Leo Rovers, representing the Construction Association of Nova Scotia; and Paula Webber, representing the National Association of Women in the Construction Industry; and Richard Lind, President of Evert-Lind Construction, and he represents the Nova Scotia Homebuilders Association.
I am joined by Rob McLaren, who will make the presentation today. Mr. McLaren is Vice-President and principal architect with W.H.W. Architects Inc. here in Halifax. W.H.W. is one of the major architectural firms in Atlantic Canada. Mr. McLaren represents the Nova Scotia Association of Architects on the Building Advisory Committee. Before I turn it over to Mr. McLaren to make the formal presentation, I would like to say a few words about the Nova Scotia Building Advisory Committee and our role with government.
Our membership is deliberately selected by the minister to ensure that our diverse stakeholder groups are represented, not only by our industry relationship but geographically, as well, from across the province. It includes three mandatory positions: the Office of the Fire Marshal, the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and a representative for the disabled people. The committee is established under the Building Code Act of the province, and is charged with responsibilities under the Act to serve in two significant functions. Primarily we serve to advise the minister on issues respecting the Building Code and its adoption and amendment by regulation of the province. Any proposed amendment to the Building Code is vetted through the committee. Once a consensus has been reached by us, we recommend to the minister its adoption. All proposed amendments are required to be circulated publicly for comment before a further review by the committee and a recommendation made to the minister. The minister may then prescribe the amendment into regulation, which takes effect upon publication of the Royal Gazette.
The committee is further charged by the Building Code Act to conduct hearings where disputes arise between owners and municipal building inspectors. The Building Code is a complicated document. Everybody reads the same words but may have very different interpretations of the meaning. It is updated continually to keep abreast of construction methods, materials and systems. Where there is a disagreement between a building owner and a municipal inspector, the owner may appeal the inspector's interpretation of the code to the committee. We have conducted hearings on many matters, including fire and life safety
issues that are contained within the code. It may be of interest to you that even the buildings which are federally owned have submitted to this process for determination of requirements.
The committee, through staff, provides advice to the national code-writing bodies. The department staff represents the province by the deputy minister's appointment to the Provincial Territorial Committee on Building Standards. The committee provides policy advice to the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes, the Standards Council of Canada, the Standards Writing Body of Canada, and internationally. The Building Advisory Committee also provides advice to the minister on any issue pertinent to the Building Code. It is for this reason the committee felt obliged and obligated to seek a hearing with the select committee today.
I want to point out that while the full committee is unable to attend today each member has had an opportunity to review and provide input into the presentation. So, it is representative of the views of our members. I want to point out that these points that Rob will be covering were endorsed unanimously by the committee. Gerald Sampson, who represents us on the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, has also sent a fax down to us saying that although he is unable to attend because he has a prior committee of the convention they have this week, that he is in full support and continues to be in full support.
I understand that you have previously received a copy of the Building Code Act, the Nova Scotia Building Code Regulations, and the rules of procedure in conducting a hearing and the background documents we have prepared in our review of the fire safety legislation in September 2000. We would be pleased to provide any additional background information the select committee may wish to have. Copies of our presentation will be made available to you today. I want to again thank you for the opportunity to present here and turn it over to Rob.
MR. ROBERT MCLAREN: Thank you, Peter. Thank you to the chairman and the select committee for the opportunity to make this presentation to you today. This review by the select committee, of the proposed fire safety legislation, provides a unique opportunity to align the Building and Fire Codes so that there is a clearly delineated line of responsibility under each piece of legislation.
During its review of Bill No. 58, the Building Advisory Committee identified two primary issues that we believe should be addressed prior to adopting the Fire Safety Act. First is the policy issue of determining which level of government, provincial or municipal, should be charged with administering building regulations, whether for new or existing buildings. Second is the issue of apparent duplicate legislation and authorities.
By way of background, the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes prepares both code documents in the form of a recommended model code to permit adoption by an appropriate authority. A special relationship exists between the NFC and the NBC, the
National Fire Code and the National Building Code, with respect to fire safety, and the contents of both codes must be considered in building design, construction and maintenance. The two codes have been developed as complementary and coordinated documents in order to reduce to a minimum the possibility of conflict in their respective contents.
The current Building Code establishes a satisfactory standard of fire safety for the construction of new buildings, the reconstruction of existing buildings, including extensions, alterations or changes in occupancy and upgrading of buildings to remove an unacceptable fire hazard. The Building Code itself includes scope and definitions, general requirements, fire protection, occupant safety and accessibility, structural design, environmental separation, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, plumbing, safety in high buildings, and fire performance ratings.
The intent of the Building Code is to establish minimum construction standards. The regulations made pursuant to the Building Code Act gives the municipality the authority to order the correction of an unsafe condition in existing buildings. With this legislation currently in place, we question the need for the Fire Safety Act to potentially impose additional administration for the regulation of buildings.
The current National Fire Code, on the other hand, deals with buildings in use, and includes standards for the conduct of activities causing fire hazards, maintenance of fire safety equipment and egress facilities, standards for portable fire extinguishers, limitations on building contents, and the establishment of fire safety plans. It also sets standards for the storage and handling of dangerous goods and flammable and combustible liquids.
As a result of its review of the draft Fire Safety Act last September, the Building Advisory Committee made the following five recommendations to the minister responsible at the time for both the Building Code Act and the proposed Fire Safety Act.
Recommendation 1. The province, under the proposed Fire Safety Act or the Building Code Act adopt the National Fire Code as the provincial standard for the use and maintenance of land and premises. This recommendation is a statement of general support for the adoption of a Provincial Fire Code, which this Fire Safety Act does, of course. As with the Building Code, it is important that there be a provincial standard to ensure consistent application across the province.
Recommendation 2. The province follow the typical responsibility model and provide for municipal administration and enforcement of the Fire Code, similar to the existing framework for the administration of the Building Code. It is important to note that Nova Scotia is in a unique position to deliver services via municipalities, respecting Building and Fire Code administration. Unlike any other provincial or territorial jurisdiction, the entirety of Nova Scotia is covered by incorporated municipal units. All other provinces and territories
have either unincorporated areas or areas where administration enforcement by municipal units is not economically feasible.
The Nova Scotia Building Code Act recognizes this situation and has, since 1987, made the administration enforcement of the Building Code a municipal responsibility and limits provincial involvement to two significant areas. First, the Building Code is adopted and amended on a province-wide basis under the Building Code Act, creating an equal footing for all involved in the construction or renovation of buildings. This creates a level playing field, so all designers and builders as well as regulators are using the same rules. This provides efficiencies in design, construction and administration of the codes enforced across the province.
Secondly, the province is responsible, through the Nova Scotia Building Advisory Committee, to conduct appeals where there is a dispute between the owner and the municipal building official. The final appeal is to the courts. This creates a very straightforward system of code administration and enforcement which is simple, cost-effective and efficient. The building owner, developer, designer know who to talk to and where to go if there is a problem.
Under the proposed Fire Safety Act there is a similar appeal process which provides an owner the opportunity to appeal the contents of an order issued by a fire official. Such orders invariably contain Building Code compliance issues. This appeal process utilizes the Utility and Review Board to hear the dispute and render a ruling. This effectively duplicates the appeal process currently in place under the Building Code Act, creating the potential for two separate bodies to hear and rule on disputes related to code interpretation or administration, which body is best equipped to hear such appeals on technical code compliance issues.
The same model of provincial enactment and municipal administration has been replicated by the Municipal Government Act, which establishes the authority of municipalities to order the remedy of dangerous conditions by removal, demolition or repair, specifying in the order what is required to be done. The municipality may order a property to be vacated until such time as the order has been carried out and may use force if so required. Where public safety requires immediate action, the municipality may take immediate action to prevent danger or remove a dangerous structure or condition. Orders to carry out repairs generally require building permits. These are issued under the authority of a municipal building inspector.
This model is currently working effectively for both Building Code administration and dangerous and unsightly premises enforcement. Much of the confusion and uncertainty surrounding the inspections of buildings is caused by the current model of municipal and provincial fire inspectors administering building regulations in new and existing buildings. It is for this reason that the Building Advisory Committee recommends adopting the Fire
Code under an administrative framework similar to that contained in the Building Code Act and the Municipal Government Act.
The current draft of the proposed Fire Safety Act does not support this typical responsibility model. It does appear that the proposed Fire Safety Act is requiring municipalities to administer the Fire Code, however, when you review the proposed legislation a number of sections clearly show the authority, either direct or enabling, in the hands of the province to administer and enforce the Building Code provisions.
Further, the broad language of Clause 27 in the proposed legislation allows the amendment of the National Fire Code by the province. This power to amend the National Fire Code should be limited to amendments for the maintenance of existing, legally approved buildings. The authority granted under the current draft legislation could lead to conflicting requirements by putting in place those that would normally be contained in the Building Code. This part of the proposed legislation overlooks the fact that there are established procedures to enact amendments to the Building Code which are enforced in the province. In other words, this legislation may allow the establishment of parallel or conflicting requirements that building owners would have to meet.
The Building Code Act establishes the adoption and amendment process for the Building Code enforced in the province. This process works well. The Building Code Act requires any amendments to the code to be thoroughly vetted by the Nova Scotia Building Advisory Committee, then taken to the public for comment before a requirement is adopted by minister's prescription into the code via the regulation.
There is no such legislative requirements included in the proposed Fire Safety Act to amend the Fire Code. There is no built-in protection in the fire safety legislation that enables the public to comment prior to amendments being made. The entire code development system is based on consensus building. All code committees nationally, including the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes, are made of selected stakeholders representing the country geographically, by interest, be they a regulator, designer, builder, owner or material manufacturer. This system is mirrored in the Building Code adoption process as described and should be reflected in the proposed Fire Safety Act.
Recommendation 3. The Building Code and Fire Code be applicable to all buildings and premises regardless of ownership, licensing status or other circumstances. The Building Code Act is not perfect. Currently the Act is not required to be applied to provincially-owned buildings. While admittedly most buildings owned and constructed by the province meet or exceed the minimum requirements of the Building Code and designers are required to comply with the requirements of the Building Code Act, provincially-owned buildings are exempt from the requirement for building permits and inspection. The government appears to hold itself to a different standard than the private sector. There is reluctance on the part of government to bind themselves. The Interpretations Act was invoked so that provincially-
owned premises are exempt from the administrative provisions regulating the process for municipal approvals on subdivision and land use.
There are other mechanisms available, rather than a blanket exemption of applying the Building Code to itself. For example, a simple amendment not requiring development permits for provincially-owned premises would alleviate any concern for building without necessarily meeting municipal land use provisions, while maintaining the responsibility model for building construction or alteration. Why is this important? If the Building Code administration by municipalities were applied to all provincially-owned buildings, duplication of services could be eliminated.
Currently the Office of the Fire Marshal provides staff to conduct plans reviews and inspection of provincially-owned facilities. It should be noted that despite their exemption under the Constitution Act, the federal Department of Public Works has recently adopted the policy of obtaining all municipal building permit approvals, prior to undertaking any federal work.
Recommendation 4. Where additional design and construction standards or amendments to the existing standards are deemed necessary, they be reflected in the Building Code Act and Regulations. The proposed Fire Safety Act provides for an order to be issued by a fire inspector which could surpass the requirements enacted under the Building Code Act. Where these orders contain requirements that deal with Nova Scotia Building Code matters, i.e. repairs, alterations, new construction, or additions to the building or its fire and life safety features, the Fire Safety Act should require that the order be forwarded to the municipal building official for administration and enforcement. This would ensure fair and consistent application of all building regulations.
In addition, as a side issue, many facilities such as liquor licensed establishments, homes for special care, daycares and bed and breakfasts, are subject to provincial licensing requirements. As a part of these licensing requirements, additional building standards are often imposed through departmental regulation. It is the committee's position that these building standard regulations should be included in the Provincial Building Code Regulations, where all other building standards are contained. Now is the time to initiate this move toward uniform building regulations, rather than continue to rely on licensing provisions to administer building regulations.
Recommendation 5. The minister consider the creation of a deputy minister's level working committee, to ensure the successful implementation of the Building Code and Fire Code in the Province of Nova Scotia. Such a committee should include representatives from the Fire Prevention Advisory Council, Building Advisory Committee, Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, and other key stakeholders. This recommendation was, at the time, intended to provide a forum to flush out the issues with the proposed legislation, prior to going to the Law Amendments Committee, after it was introduced in the House. It is the Building
Advisory Committee's hope that this select committee will encourage such participation and effect the changes necessary to ensure that the proposed Fire Safety Act is implemented, so that an effective system of fire and life safety is in place for all Nova Scotians.
In conclusion, we believe that the proposed Fire Safety Act in its current form does not encourage the effective administration of fire and life safety provisions, under the Nova Scotia Building Code or the proposed Fire Code. The legislation creates unnecessary duplication which can only lead to further conflict and needless additional costs to the public. We encourage the recognition of the Building Code Act Regulations and the authority of the municipalities in the role of plans review and building inspection, as it pertains to the Building Code issues of the Fire Safety Act.
We expect that the administration and future amendment to the Fire Code be handled in concert with the applicable Building Code provisions. We hope that the potential for conflicting interpretation of Building Code requirements under the Fire Safety Act be removed. We encourage recognition of the appeal process under the Building Code Act as the provincial avenue of appeal for Building Code issues. We support the need for pre-publication of regulations, a public review period, and a forum for making and amending regulations, similar to the provisions of the Building Code Act.
Finally, the Nova Scotia Building Advisory Committee recommends the creation of a standing committee of deputy ministers to develop and oversee policy for codes, development and administration in the province. This concludes the presentation of the formal submission by the Building Advisory Committee. We refer you, as Peter said, to other documents submitted to the committee by Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations and we are available to answer any questions you may have. Thank you.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr. McLaren. We are pleased to have with us from the Liberal caucus Mr. MacEwan, who is replacing one of the regular members. If I might start off with a question, this legislation has been in the works for some time, as you are very well aware, I expect. Did this organization basically make the same comments and recommendations when the legislation was drafted?
MR. MCLAREN: Yes, I was involved with the committee at the start of the year 2000 and the opportunity came up to review it through the summer and up to September 2000, and that is when the formal review had been undertaken. I can't answer any involvement of the committee prior to that date. Maybe you are aware of that Peter?
MR. GREER: I think the letter came from the Department of Labour to us or to our minister, asking us to comment on it and that is where these recommendations flowed from, from that discussion and review.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I guess what I was really trying to arrive at is, if these concerns were presented previously, have you had a response from any of the requests?
MR. GREER: We submitted them to the minister in September 2000. Coincidentally, the Minister of Municipal Affairs was the Minister of Labour at that time so, since reporting to himself. I see this as the natural next step to come to this committee. It may be worthwhile for you - I do have more paper for you, the reports - to see the recommendations in the reports, we could maybe address those during questions.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Do any members have specific questions they would like to ask? Graham.
MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Thank you very much for coming today. I think it is very important that the committee hear from you and I do thank you for making such specific points. I just wanted to follow up on the question the chairman just asked and maybe put the same question a slightly different way. Have these specific recommendations you have talked about been put to the government before today and if so, what response did you get?
MR. GREER: I see Ed back there, I will ask him to jump into this.
MR. ED THORNHILL: Excuse me, only because I see Rob struggling with it. My understanding of the recommendations that the Building Advisory Committee made to the minister - I don't want to overemphasize their impact, but - I think the creation of this committee was a result of some of those issues. When the legislation went for public input, those recommendations were part of that public input and I think the creation of this committee was an acknowledgement there are issues, there are problems and things that need to be flushed out with this legislation, so here we sit. I think that answers your question.
MR. STEELE: In the same vein I should say that broadly speaking, as this committee went around the province, we heard from three groups. There were people who were broadly representing the building inspectors who were raising many of the same kinds of issues that you have raised today. The municipalities, who, when they did appear, were concerned about the costs and downloads, nobody was opposed to the bill, they just had lots of issues and questions that they felt needed to be resolved. The last group was the people in the fire service, whose message to the committee in most every stop was, what are you waiting for? Why is this taking so long? Why is there another committee? We need this bill passed and we need it passed now. That is by way of preamble to my real question to you which is, has your Building Advisory Committee ever sat down with the Fire Safety Advisory Committee or the Fire Officials Association of Nova Scotia to see if these issues you are raising can be resolved in a consensual way?
MR. GREER: I have one comment, Rob may want to comment further. We do have the Office of the Fire Marshal represented in Mr. Cormier, who, in fact, endorsed these recommendations, seconded the motion for approval and it was carried unanimously by our committee. We felt it would be appropriate for him to take that back to the Office of the Fire Marshal and that committee.
MR. STEELE: Would it be possible for your committee to submit a list of specific clauses in Bill No. 58, really, a very detailed list of the clauses that cause you concern in Bill No. 58 as it currently stands?
MR. MCLAREN: I believe one of the documents submitted through the department, which you probably have - I understand it was submitted through staff - did a comparison between issues in the Fire Safety Act and the current Building Code Act that, I think, did a fairly good job of highlighting those concerns, those differences. In fact, some of the issues in the Building Code Act maybe need to be looked at to fit more appropriately with the current Fire Safety Act and Fire Code application.
MR. STEELE: I know we have that document and the material we were given, so you think that document pretty much lays out specifically where your concerns lie?
MR. MCLAREN: Yes.
MR. STEELE: One last question which I asked at a previous meeting and I suppose in some respects isn't fair, because I am asking you the question that, I guess, maybe the members of the committee should answer and that is, are the objections you are raising or the questions you are raising, are they, in your opinion, important enough to delay the passage of Bill No. 58 until they are resolved?
MR. GREER: Yes. Really, I see this as an opportunity to get it right, that we would have the authority of the Building Regulations to fall to the authority of this committee where they belong. In a sense it will help to eliminate possible red tape in the setting of who is responsible for what.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr. Steele.
MR. GREER: Maybe Ed would like to comment on that as well.
MR. THORNHILL: If you don't mind, I don't like to insert myself where I don't belong. I just want to elaborate a little further on that response and the question you asked about the fire services saying, where is this legislation? What is going on and what is holding it up? The Building Code Advisory supports the bulk of the Fire Safety Act, there is no question about that; the fire suppression provisions; the investigation provisions; and the education provisions. It is a small portion that appears to be in conflict with the
administration of the Building Code. So to answer the question, is there enough to hold it up? I would suggest yes, with those provisions still in there. It would be fairly easy to remove those and move forward with the important, significant parts of the legislation.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Cecil.
MR. CECIL O'DONNELL: Do I understand that the local municipality or the building inspector now has the authority, if they deem a house unsafe, that they can evacuate the people?
MR. MCLAREN: I believe so, yes. I am not sure of the exact terminology of evacuation, but where there is an unsafe condition, they have the ability to set orders.
MR. O'DONNELL: Why I ask that is probably less than a year ago in Sandy Point, Shelburne, there was a home and I think the only way they could evacuate these people, I think it was the deputy fire marshal who had to order it.
MR. THORNHILL: That is entirely different, the provisions are there within both the Building Code Act and the Municipal Government Act for municipal officials to order the evacuation of a building. Those provisions aren't used very often, simply because you are displacing people, you create other problems then. You can order corrections and you are taking some pretty heavy-handed approaches when you evacuate a building, but the provisions are there to. Additionally, they aren't used that often and quite often since the duplication is there now under the Fire Prevention Act, the Fire Marshal's Office is the one who orders those evacuations.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Any other questions?
MR. MCLAREN: There is one other thing I can add here, trying to put the five recommendations and all the details and the various discussions into perhaps more of an overview of what we are trying to get at as the Building Advisory Committee. I think it would be fair to say that all issues of construction, repair and alteration of buildings remain with the Building Code Act and that issues of use of existing buildings and maintenance of fire safety systems rest with the Fire Safety Act. I think that is really culled down as the issues we are trying to get at here within the Fire Safety Act. Everything that is related to Building Code, place under the Building Code responsibilities. Anything related to use, occupancy and maintenance, leave it in the Fire Safety Act. Everything that spins out of avoiding that issue is where potential issues of duplicated authorities, due to conflicting rulings and differences of opinion that are hard to resolve in one organization, that is what arises.
I think in terms of my approach, as an architect sitting on this committee, that is probably the one key thing. How it all spills out are in the details but I think that probably is the one global overview issue that we see within the Fire Safety Act.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Steele.
MR. STEELE: Just one last question that occurred to me just as you were speaking, there is one person who sits on both the Fire Safety Committee and the Building Advisory Committee, namely, Bob Cormier, the Fire Marshal. He has been at almost every one of our meetings and I should probably ask him this question but I will ask you, since he is not here. You said there was unanimous support on the Building Advisory Council for the presentation you have made today. Is it your understanding that that unanimity includes Bob Cormier?
MR. GREER: Bob seconded the motion.
MR. STEELE: Because the difficulty I have really is that the Fire Safety Advisory Committee comes to us and says, what are you waiting for, why are we having more hearings, get on with it, pass the bill as it stands and he sits on that committee. Your committee comes to us and says, we support the bulk of it but we have some reservations and Bob sits on that committee. I am just wondering, he can't support both at the same time, if you know what I mean, but like I said, that may be a question more appropriate for him than for you.
MR. MCLAREN: Probably, the motion that he seconded was the motion in September 2000, that made these five recommendations forwarded on to our minister of the day.
MR. STEELE: Thank you.
MR. GREER: We understand that he still stands by those recommendations. He has never brought to us a statement saying I no longer support these recommendations. I think they can run together. My own experience with legislation is that you would want to ensure that it gets through that process of being adopted by the House and that in a sense, you need people to champion those causes to get legislation approved, in a sense get them ahead of the pack, right? So I would see why he would want to ensure that this legislation gets approved. Hopefully, with this process with this committee, we can make these changes that we see as important that would lead to better legislation.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Any other questions or comments?
MR. GREER: I have just one comment on the committee itself. I have been on this committee for a number of years and find that our committee does work well, we do advise the minister regularly. Another important part of our work is to hear appeals from disputes
between building officials and developers, owners and contractors and so on. It is very rare that the decisions our committee makes are appealed to the courts. I think it is a process that works very well. What we are recommending here could very well make for smoother legislation that will work for everybody.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Well, thank you very much for coming in and for your presentation. Perhaps we could just take a two minute break, then the committee could reconvene for some housekeeping duties.
[2:41 p.m. The committee recessed.]
[2:46 p.m. The committee reconvened.]
MR. CHAIRMAN: As you are well aware, this concludes our presentations as far as the schedule of going around the province and the ones that were scheduled for here. There have been some requests and I will just ask Mora to, perhaps, fill in what we could work out for an agenda for next week and the coming days.
MS. MORA STEVENS (Legislative Committee Coordinator): I have been speaking with the Department of Labour. One of the reasons they couldn't come in when the fire marshal came in back in September was the person who had actually written the legislation was on extended leave. She is back and she is actually the person who is writing the opinion that you asked for, Mr. Morash. They are doing a memorandum, Gordon Johnson passed it on to them, so they will have that to you. They are more than welcome to come and speak about any aspect of the bill, if you would like any clarification. They said they are more than happy to be here as you are going through, if you had any questions on that.
The Building Officials Association, which I have been speaking to Graham about, Mr. Leedham, who was here, had actually been in conversation with me about a month ago, wanting to know if they were involved with this meeting. I said, as members of the BAC, and then they ended up actually coming to a number of the hearings as well. Graham actually mentioned the possibility of their coming before the committee on their own. I will let Graham speak about that.
MR. STEELE: On that note, I have been persuaded, I think, by the presentation today that a separate meeting with the building officials wouldn't add anything, today's presentation very much reflects their point of view. I am not thinking along those lines anymore, unless anybody else feels strongly about it. What I had suggested to the chairman was a separate meeting specifically with the Building Officials Association, but I am not persuaded that is necessary anymore.
MS. STEVENS: Gordon Johnson also mentioned that once you are ready to have him here to talk about certain issues of changes to the bill and things like that, he would be more than happy to make himself available to you. Plus, if there was anybody else you thought of bringing in, I know, Graham, you had mentioned the fire services, Mr. Mike Eddy, concerning high-rise buildings, I think it was, and smoke detectors.
MR. STEELE: I didn't specifically mention smoke detectors, but just for the benefit of the members of the committee, because again I have mentioned this to the chairman and also to Brian Boudreau, much of what we have been hearing as we tour the province is from more rural areas and volunteer services, whereas there are a number of constituencies, of course, in Halifax and Sydney that are largely or entirely urban, like my own for example. One particular concern of mine is fire safety in high-rise buildings, of which there are quite a number in my constituency. In fact, there was quite a serious fire in one not long before I was elected.
What I had proposed, if the committee is willing, is to invite in Chief Mike Eddy of the Halifax Fire Service, who did attend our meeting on September 6th, but there was just no opportunity really to question him, to talk specifically about issues that arise in urban areas. That was my proposal, to see if the committee was willing to entertain that.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Would it be possible to tie this in with some other - probably half an hour or something would be more than enough.
MR. STEELE: I was thinking an hour at the most.
MR. PAUL MACEWAN: He raises a very serious concern. As I was watching the World Trade Centre disintegrate, I saw the fire trucks rushing up to try to fight the fire. There was no way they could get at it, there was nothing they could do. I don't know that we can come up with the answer to this problem, but it certainly is a problem today, a big one.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Agreed. Fine.
MR. STEELE: Thank you very much.
MS. STEVENS: That is basically all I have. The Insurance Bureau of Canada just sent in a fax with a letter, and I will be making sure all the submissions that I have received so far are distributed. We have some Hansards now that we are copying, that we received yesterday, so those will come out. Is there anybody that you can think of that you have heard from, is there a group that you feel has been absent from the public hearings that we could ask if they would like to appear? That is probably the stage you are at now, just making sure you have heard all the opinions.
MR. STEELE: Just on that point, I know that from time to time a presenter would suggest that we talk to this person or that person or this organization or that organization, although I am not remembering at the moment just exactly what those were. It might be worthwhile just checking what has been suggested to us. For example, I know the fire marshal suggested we talk to APENS, the Association of Professional Engineers, but they are part of the Building Advisory Committee, so I am not sure if that would be necessary. Another presenter, I forget who and where, suggested that we talk to the Building Code people or the National Research Council, for example. I am not saying I am for that or against it, just that I note some presenters were suggested to us over the course of our hearings. I don't know if anybody else has any views on that.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I don't know of anyone. I think with every organization that has presented with today's group, that probably we have covered, to the best of my knowledge, the majority if not all professional organizations that might have input. After today's presentation, I don't need a long time with the fire marshal, but I would like to have him appear.
MS. STEVENS: One more time.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I think it could be short, but I think there are a couple of questions that need to be posed.
MR. KERRY MORASH: Agreed. There seem to be some issues there that he might be able to recommend some amendments to sort out some confusion that we currently have.
MS. STEVENS: I know one of the questions that Mr. Morash had asked was to get some information from the National Research Council. They said they are more than happy to provide that. Bob Cormier sent me the name of the person and I faxed on the information to them. He said he would have it as soon as possible, so we are hoping that by the end of this week he will have that to us. I will make sure that is distributed to all committee members. Other than that, the only other, as I said, was the Department of Labour and Municipal Relations, in their aspect in this, it was mentioned before, that haven't come. I think that was actually Russell MacKinnon who talked about people in the Department of Labour and Municipal Relations coming before the committee. I didn't know if that was a briefing-type thing or you feel that it is necessary.
I know Labour would be more than happy to go over, since they were the ones who actually wrote the bill itself. Gordon Johnson seemed to be in favour of that when you start through the bill, if you needed some clarifications on what changing this would entail, these other sections as well, and when you get into the wording of that.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Perhaps next Wednesday, is that a reasonable date? It is good for our particular Party because we have caucus on Wednesdays.
MR. MACEWAN: So do we. What time of day are you talking about?
MR. CHAIRMAN: We are talking afternoon.
MR. MACEWAN: Our caucus begins at 1:30 p.m. You are all invited. (Laughter)
MR. STEELE: Our caucus happens to have a meeting that afternoon as well.
MS. STEVENS: Public Accounts is in the morning, from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m., and then the government caucus meets from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.
MR. CHAIRMAN: What does Tuesday afternoon look like? Is Tuesday afternoon a good date for everyone? (Interruptions)
MR. O'DONNELL: What time?
MR. CHAIRMAN: It is open, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. or something like that.
MS. STEVENS: That seems like a good time.
MR. MORASH: I have a subcommittee meeting with the Nova Scotia Association of Architects from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. I see, if this is correct. I don't know how many people are on the subcommittee. I expect that I am.
MS. STEVENS: Not from here.
MR. MORASH: A caucus subcommittee. (Interruptions) You're invited too.
MS. STEVENS: We could do it 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. if that's . . .
Mr. O'DONNELL: Morning?
MS. STEVENS: Morning. We can fit you in, either this room or the other room, for sure.
MR. MACEWAN: From 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Would 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday be (Interruptions)
MS. STEVENS: Yes, October 23rd. Oh, there is the metro MLAs' meeting that day. (Interruptions) Are you not considered metro? Oh, that was what I was told.
MR. STEELE: I am not sure what meeting you are talking about.
MS. STEVENS: That there was a metro MLAs' meeting that day. Maybe it is only within the one Party.
MR. STEELE: A metro MLAs' meeting with whom?
MS. STEVENS: I have no idea.
MR. STEELE: Is this another Tory tri-caucus subcommittee?
MS. STEVENS: Maybe it is, I don't know.
MR. STEELE: I am not currently aware of that meeting. There may be something going on.
MR. CHAIRMAN: From 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
MR. STEELE: Tuesday, October 23rd.
MR. MACEWAN: I am not replacing Brian Boudreau, I just came here as a replacement for today. For next Tuesday, I can be here, I don't know about him for sure. We will have someone here.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Great. Thanks, Paul. Okay, and then I guess the only other issue that I spoke to Mora about was, at some point in time, starting to go through the bill line by line, because I believe it is important that we do that.
MR. MORASH: I was just thinking that that might fit in very well with Gordon Johnson or with the Department of Labour, the people who wrote this. I would really like to go through that line by line and have them explain to me what some of those sections meant when they were writing it. Some things don't really make sense to me, they probably do to the lawyers who wrote it but not to myself. Could we do that together, perhaps, or . . .
MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes, I was hoping we could have the people we wanted to ask questions of, then start that process. Quite frankly I think it is important we take the time to do this as well as we can. I know that some of the things we heard out there are probably not mandated in this bill or for our input, but I do think there are things that affect the fire service that we should be very careful that - if it isn't in this bill, I realize we don't add it or anything - we do make sure that the proper people are made aware, so that the volunteer fire service in particular, out in rural areas and the whole province, does not suffer from something because of their information. These people presented us with the information, even though it may not apply to this bill, we are their collective representatives. Let's do what we can to make sure it gets in the proper form and to the right people to protect the fire service that we have that is a wonderful organization.
MRS. MURIEL BAILLIE: We want a good Act.
MR. CHAIRMAN: We want the best Act we can come up with.
MRS. BAILLIE: Jon, are you saying that next Tuesday you will be going through this line by line?
MR. CHAIRMAN: I would think we would be able to start. I would say that as far as I know Mr. Cormier would be able to answer at least anything I know of in 15 minutes. I have some pointed questions for him myself. I would think the people coming in would be a maximum of an hour, probably, for that. Then, perhaps, we could start. If that is agreeable. I'm easy, whatever. Then we will proceed from there.
I guess we can adjourn then.
[The committee adjourned at 3:00 p.m.]