The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association (OFVGA) wrote to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) about the consultation on the Ontario Building Code services. The OFVGA in their letter addressed some of the factors that they wished the MMAH would consider as it finalizes its path forward.
Consistent application of the code
The OFVGA expressed among their wishes that they would like to see a consistent application of the building code between regions and sectors. According to the OFVGA this has been an ongoing issue for farmers in relation to farm buildings for various applications. The OFVGA feels that it is important that officials inspecting agricultural buildings and bunk housing should understand the unique factors faced by the sector. As a solution they suggest a specially trained agricultural building inspector.
Building permit Levy
The consultation materials outline that a building permit levy is being proposed in addition to the existing municipal permit fees. Though the OFVGA supports improved service delivery for the application of building code services, they suggest that MMAH look for other solutions that do not increase the burden on the builder. They say that the extra economic burden could dissuade potential building projects or expansions.
According to the OFVGA, in order for the Ontario fruit and vegetable sector to grow it is important to maintain a regulatory environment that enables, rather than hinders the growth and competitiveness of the sector. They say that a potential solution would be to conduct a thorough review of the existing fees and levies collected and remitted to the province for various building code services and identify areas where savings can be found. These funds could then be redirected to cover the revenue proposed to be generated by this new levy.
As part of the requirements for hiring seasonal workers, farmers must provide housing for them. Many of OFVGA’s members therefore use bunkhouses as residences for foreign seasonal agricultural workers. The OFVGA suggests that the MMAH review the code to identify ways to reduce bunkhouse requirements, without decreasing the quality of the living space for workers. On top of this, the OFVGA suggests that retrofitting otherwise unused dwellings that farmers have available could reduce waste and building costs.