The Regional District of Central Kootenay is no fan of the provincial STEP Code. File photo

The Regional District of Central Kootenay is no fan of the provincial STEP Code. File photo

RDCK board encouraged to ‘STEP’ forward with building code

RDCK directors have twice delayed adopting STEP Code standards

By John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Regional District of Central Kootenay shouldn’t fear new provincially mandated energy-saving rules for house construction, a delegation told the regional government’s board of directors.

Energy inspector Gerry Sawkins and Nelson architect Lukas Armstrong appeared before the board at its meeting last week to lobby directors to adopt the STEP Code as soon as possible.

“We’re deeply involved in the industry, both of us have had extensive experience in STEP Code buildings,” says Armstrong. “We know the Regional District had decided not to support the adoption of the STEP Code, and we believe that that is a terribly misplaced, bad decision.

“The fears are unfounded.”

The STEP Code was initiated to try to come to grips with the greenhouse gas emissions produced by British Columbians. One easy fix, the government believes, is in home energy use. The new code tightens building construction methods with an eye to reducing how much energy buildings need, and how much they waste.

The first stage of the new STEP Code rules come into effect in 2022, when all new buildings have to show a 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gasses from a set standard. That increases to 40 per cent improvement by 2027, and 80 per cent by 2032. It’s a massive job. To meet our greenhouse gas targets, “B.C. will require retrofit of 30,000 houses, 17,000 apartments and three million square metres of commercial every year until 2050,” the two men noted.

While the provincial government is mandating the changes, and the RDCK has no say in setting the standards, it’s local politicians who are feeling the heat from contractors and home builders. They’ve heard many public complaints that the new rules are adding a lot of money to the cost of building a home.

It’s prompted the RDCK directors to twice delay adopting STEP Code standards early in the regional district, and even consider not endorsing them.

Armstrong says that would be a mistake.

“There’s a lot of misinformation floating out there,” says Armstrong. “…Because at the end of the day, the science is pretty clear about climate change, and the building science is clear, and the economic arguments are pretty clear.

“It’s extremely frustrating to have this misinformation causing a delay to action.”

The delegation provided stats that show the cost of building to the STEP Code adds about $7,000 to the cost of a new build, which can be paid back in seven years in energy savings, they said. The added cost for professional services – like energy consultants – were roughly neutral to the home owner. Those costs are often offset by rebates, they note.

As a side benefit, they noted that building to STEP Code provides a form of quality assurance on new homes being built.

They also said concerns about complexity of the new rules adding to contractors’ headaches are just not founded in reality.

Armstrong says the most frustrating part for him is that this is coming to the region in two years, no matter what the RDCK’s politicians think.

“What do we do then? How is the regional district as a building department going to have the capacity to effectively address the requirements of STEP Code, if they haven’t had the practice?” he asks. “And if we don’t have the capacity in the design community, or in the energy advisory community, or the building community to effectively respond to the mandatory measures?

“I just don’t understand how the RDCK would allow the decision to not support STEP Code at this point. They’re cutting off their nose to spite their face.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

FILE PHOTO
Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available, as AstraZeneca supply runs low: Interior Health

Province expecting large volumes of Pfizer BioNTech as age-based cohort immunization program ramps up

Greg Nesteroff and Eric Brighton, the historians behind popular Facebook page Lost Kootenays, are set to release a book of the same name and have just unveiled its cover showing the ghostly Hotel in Slocan City shortly before its 1953 demolition. Photo courtesy of Greg Nesteroff and Eric Brighton.
Popular historical Facebook page Lost Kootenays set to release book

128-page hard copy documenting history of East and West Kootenays coming this fall

Slava Doval and her youth group DanceFusion got an emotional response from residents at Mountain Lakes Seniors Community on April 30. Photo: Submitted
‘It touched me deeply’: Youth dancers perform at Nelson seniors home

Slava Doval’s DanceFusion danced outdoors for Mountain Lake residents

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read