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Still ‘unreasonable’ for Langford to permit building with no architect, appeal court rules

Appeal court denies Langford’s appeal of 2020 ruling on Hoffman Complex
The five-unit townhouse in Langford should have had an architect, and city building inspectors should consider the Architects Act, B.C. Court of Appeals ruled June 30. (Black Press Media file image)

Langford was ‘unreasonable’ to issue a building permit for a design without an architect, B.C.’s appeal court confirmed on June 30, upholding the B.C. Supreme Court’s 2020 decision.

The case started in 2010 when the City of Langford issued a building permit for the Hoffman Complex that had been designed without a licensed architect. The building at 689 Hoffman Ave. was constructed, occupancy permits were given and the five units were sold between 2017 and 2018.

It almost didn’t matter that there hadn’t been an architect until one owner started asking around. They were told by Langford’s chief building inspector, Jerry Worobec, that a building of that size only needed a structural engineer to sign off, and the city had no authority to require an architect be involved.

This answer didn’t sit right with the owner, who notified the Architectural Institute of B.C.

Without an architect on the project, the institute had no one to discipline, but it did ask the city and project designer to promise to use architects in the future, when required by the Architects Act, a piece of legislation the institute is charged with enforcing.

William Peereboom of Victoria Design Ltd. who designed the building, agreed he had breached the Act, and signed a document promising compliance.

But Langford refused.

It argued that the Architects Act was outside its municipal building bylaw jurisdiction, and that signing a commitment would be “inconsistent with the discretionary nature of the building permitting process.”

That’s what the city argued in court when the Architecture Institute of B.C. took legal action in 2020.

RELATED: No architect for Langford building ruled ‘unreasonable’ by B.C. Supreme Court

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled then that Langford was in the wrong. Langford appealed, and last week three judges denied the request, upholding the earlier court ruling.

Last year when the first ruling came out, Langford Mayor Stew Young told the Gazette it wouldn’t impact the city, but will cost developers, possibly raising the cost of housing.

“We’re going to carry on with what we’re doing, it just means the end product is more expensive,” he said at the time. “It’s just another cost that probably is unnecessary but we have to live with that.”

Young wasn’t available for comment this time, but a spokesperson for the city said, “We are disappointed with the Court of Appeal’s decision and the ramifications it will have in all municipalities across the province. The City of Langford’s lawyers are currently reviewing the details of the decision.”

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