The BC Court of Appeal recently dismissed the appeal by the City of Langford of a 2020 Supreme Court ruling that confirmed the requirement of an architect on a mixed-use, multi-family dwelling.
The City of Langford had issued a building permit and allowed construction and occupancy of the building despite the lack of involvement by an architect in the design and supervision of construction. In May 2020, the chambers judge ruled that the Architects Act is a law “respecting health and safety” and that it was not legally acceptable for a municipal building permit to be issued for building that had been designed in contravention of a relevant law respecting safety. That decision is found here: 2020 BCSC 801 (CanLII) | The Architectural Institute of British Columbia v Langford (City) | CanLII.
The City of Langford appealed this ruling, relying in part on an argument that the prohibitions on non-architects designing and supervising construction of certain buildings are discretionary for building officials. The Court of Appeal issued its judgment on June 30, 2021. The court focused on the mandatory nature of the Architects Act’s public safety provisions, including the types of buildings requiring an architect found at Section 60 of the Architects Act, concluding:
 …. The detail set out in s. 60 indicates a carefully calibrated description of what buildings require the approval of architects and what buildings do not. These provisions are safety standards that limit the exercise of discretion by any delegated decision maker tasked with the authority to approve the construction of buildings that fall within the statutory definition. On the face of the legislation, and having in mind the existing jurisprudence, the Act does constrain the building inspectors. No reasonable analysis has been suggested to support a contrary conclusion. It is not enough to simply state that the City is of a different view.
 I would also reject the City’s characterization of this proceeding as an attempt to require municipal officials to “enforce” the provisions of the Architects Act. The issue is not one of enforcement, but whether a decision that does not take account of the statutory constraints operating on the decision maker can be said to be reasonable.
The Court of Appeal’s full judgement can be found here: 2021 BCCA 261 (CanLII) | The Architectural Institute of British Columbia v. Langford (City) | CanLII.
The AIBC will continue to work with local governments in furtherance of our shared public protection mandate. Any questions related to the Langford judgment can be directed to Thomas Lutes, General Counsel & Deputy CEO, or Sabinder Sheina, Legal Counsel; Director, Professional Conduct and Illegal Practice.
- 2021 BCCA 261 (CanLII) | The Architectural Institute of British Columbia v. Langford (City) | CanLII
- 2020 BCSC 801 (CanLII) | The Architectural Institute of British Columbia v Langford (City) | CanLII
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