The issuance of a building permit was unreasonable because the drawings were not made in compliance with the Architects Act

15. September 2020 0

Administrative law – Decisions reviewed – Municipal Board – Rules and by-laws – Building permits – Judicial review – Legislative compliance – Public interest – Standard of review – Reasonableness – Engineers and architects

Architectural Institute of British Columbia v. Langford (City), [2020] B.C.J. No. 886, 2020 BCSC 801, British Columbia Supreme Court, May 29, 2020, S.F. Kelleher J.

The Chief Building Inspector for the City of Langford issued a building permit for the construction of a mixed commercial/residential strata complex. The project drawings were prepared by a designer and did not involve an architect. Under section 59 of the Architects Act, the practice of architecture includes the “planning or supervision of the erection or alteration of buildings” except those built for self-occupancy. Section 60 qualifies section 59, stating that the Architects Act does not prevent “a person from advising on, planning, designing or supervising the erection, alteration or repair of a building other than (vii) any other building in excess of 470 m2 gross area, being the aggregate area of all floors…” Therefore, the strata complex in Langford required the involvement of an architect pursuant to the Architects Act. AIBC and the City of Langford disagreed on the application of the Architects Act as it related to the City’s Building Bylaws.

The Court first considered AIBC’s public interest standing.  The Court held that the issues before it were justiciable due to the adversarial nature of the parties and the issue was grounded in basic facts. The Court accepted that this dispute was a “serious and justiciable issue” involving the interplay between municipal building bylaws and the Architects Act. The Court accepted that AIBC raised a genuine issue and that it was reasonable and effective for AIBC to bring the petition.  The Court was satisfied that AIBC met the test for public interest standing.  The Court then held that the appropriate standard of review was reasonableness which was to be based on the analysis in Vavilov.

On the merits of the petition, the Court held that the City’s decision to issue a building permit for a structure that was designed in contravention of the Architects Act, and without considering the Architects Act, was not reasonable. The Court held that the City’s Building Inspector acted in a manner that was inconsistent with the legal constraints imposed by the governing statutory scheme. The Court granted a declaration that the City’s decision to grant a building permit was unreasonable because the drawings were not in compliance with the Architects Act and those drawings were prepared by an unlicensed person who provided design services contrary to the Architects Act.

This case was digested by Jackson C. Doyle, and first published in the LexisNexis® Harper Grey Administrative Law Netletter and the Harper Grey Administrative Law Newsletter.  If you would like to discuss this case further, please contact Jackson C. Doyle at

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