City states opposition to PRRD discontinuing building bylaw

Fort St. John City Hall. File photo.

The City of Fort St. John has officially stated their opposition to the Peace River Regional District discontinuing the current building bylaw. The PRRD is looking to repeal the bylaw after receiving negative feedback from rural residents.

The main issue at hand involves the requirement of building permits. If the bylaw is discontinued building permits would not be required in any portion of rural areas in the PRRD.

In a letter that was approved to be sent to the regional district at Monday’s City Council meeting, the City highlighted four points of concern if the current bylaw is cancelled.

Among those concerns are potential risks to Fort St. John firefighters. Areas requiring building permits are within the Rural Fire Protection Area and as such no permits could add to the risks already faced by members of the department.

Also noted is the likely expansion of City boundaries into portions of unincorporated areas in the future. As the City requires building code compliance, taking in sub-standard buildings would have a financial impact on taxpayers to bring them up to code.

The purpose of building codes is to protect public health, safety, and welfare according to a letter from the City to be sent to the PRRD. The point states “The City of Fort St. John is concerned about a decision of a governing body that conflicts with our core mandate of keeping our communities safe and healthy”

The PRRD is in the process of obtaining information on the opinions of possibly retracting the bylaw. When the process is completed the Board will make a decision on the future of the bylaw in the fall of this year.

At this point the PRRD has not decided if a referendum on the matter will be held, and a possible date for one will not be announced until a report has been received from staff.