From coast to coast to coast, the Architectural Institute of British Columbia is grateful to live, learn and work on the traditional and ancestral territories of the Indigenous peoples, who have been and continue to be the stewards of the land. The AIBC head office is located on xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations lands, in Coast Salish Territory.
If the worldwide pandemic has exposed anything, it is how we have been able to adapt and shift our daily operations in ways that, before, seemed fanciful. Yet we count ourselves fortunate that our profession, for the most part, has fared well and continued to work. Others have not been so fortunate.
Yet, it has not been all crisis management. There have been valuable lessons learned, new ways that we can communicate effectively, and I am sure many will carry forward the productive parts of their current working lives. We are no longer staring at a blank screen with a hopeful message saying: “normal service will resume shortly”. We are seeing a hint of “back to normal”, but it will be a changed practice delivery.
The pandemic has forced us to re-think how we approach our work, and our clients and construction partners have adapted too. It has kickstarted new ways of expressing and delivering ideas and pushed us to think critically about a future that is uncertain and insecure. The pandemic has driven change, taught us to think about what is vital, what is important, and what we value. This is not a time to hit reverse and go “back to normal”, but to look forward and grasp the opportunities that have been presented to us. We are in rapidly changing times and certainly not bound by the legacies of the past. It requires agility, resilience, and a renewed sense of purpose.
The AIBC finds itself at a similar juncture. The professional regulation of architects is moving from the long-term legacy of the Architects Act to the new Professional Governance Act (PGA). The legislation is slated to be fully in force for the AIBC by early 2022. As a profession, we have had the privilege of self-regulation since the inception of the Architects Act in 1920, but it has long been outpaced by the modern practice of architecture. The new legislation still grants us the privilege of self-regulation, but with additional oversight from the Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance (OSPG).
The PGA is the new foundation for the regulation of architectural professionals, but we are in a strong position to define how we work within its boundaries. AIBC staff have been able to anticipate this change and closely observed how other professions have handled the transition.
The OSPG has given us the opportunity to play a role in the development of a modern regulation, relevant to our work today, whilst retaining public confidence in the profession’s standards and trust in our knowledge. In the light of the evolving daily practice changes pushed by the pandemic, the timing is amazingly aligned.
The AIBC continues to focus efforts on being an effective and responsive regulatory body, and actively contribute to the development of how the profession will be regulated under the new legislation. The Institute has continually upheld its public interest mandate, even when navigating the challenges of the outdated Architects Act, which has given the AIBC a strong and knowledgeable voice at the table of change. This evolution requires an exhaustive re-crafting of our bylaws, which is currently underway through a rolling program of reviews and discussions with the OSPG. The dialogue has been open, collaborative, and effective.
The inevitable question for architects in practice and those seeking registration, is “How will this affect
In many ways, not much…but it will ease and clarify public confidence in our profession and will refine the definition of reserved areas of practice and professional standards. This will reinforce the value and qualities that architectural professionals bring to their daily work through robust educational standards and professional conduct requirements. The need for public confidence and trust is paramount, and there is no better time for our profession to demonstrate leadership, contribute to a common good, and drive actionable outcomes.
In the coming months, registrants will learn more about the new and proposed Professional Governance Act amendments through a multi-phased bylaw review. Rounds of bylaws will be presented to registrants, who will then have the opportunity to provide feedback through surveys, email, or consultation sessions. While there will be no voting, I encourage you to be actively engaged in the process.
One of the changes coming into force under the Professional Governance Act I specifically want to highlight is the introduction of mandatory continuing education programs that support Indigenous Reconciliation. While the AIBC already has a Continuing Education System in place, there will be new requirements regarding Truth and Reconciliation incorporated into the program. The specific requirements are still under development and will be shared once available.
The AIBC is pleased to see the embedding of Indigenous Reconciliation in professional legislation, and will also be participating in September 30, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This is a day of learning, commemoration, and reflection, and the Institute will be closed to show its support for truth and reconciliation and inclusion. AIBC Staff have been provided resources to continue their learning about the experience of Indigenous peoples in Canada, and I encourage all of us on September 30 to create time and give thought to our own commitment towards truth and reconciliation, on both a personal and professional level.
AIBC Council and staff have also been focusing their efforts on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). Encouraging diversity through inclusivity have been long-standing initiatives of AIBC and are embedded in the core values and strategic goals of the Institute. A council and staff EDI Task Force has been formed, and council has recently approved the AIBC’s first Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Commitment Statement, which includes the Territory Gratitude Statement at the beginning of this message. The full commitment can be read on the AIBC website. The mandate of the Task Force is to support and deliver on the EDI Statement, such that registrants reflect the public that they serve. I encourage you to read the Task Force’s Terms of Reference.
On a related note – I have heard that some are asking about when the AIBC offices will re-open. The AIBC continues to remain closed to registrants and the public, and will be until at least early 2022. The AIBC is monitoring the pandemic situation closely, and all of the Institute’s COVID-19 safety documents are available on the website.
I step into the role of president at a time of necessary transition, but with a belief that we can be an active part of change and work towards leaving this place better than we found it, in whatever way you choose to contribute. Architects need to grasp the issues of climate change and social injustice because our profession, perhaps more than many, has a fundamental duty of legacy.
Stuart Rothnie Architect AIBC, SAA, OAA, MRAIC, LEED AP