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RAIC: Supporting a national voice for architecture

By Angie Sauvé



The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC), through the support of its nearly 5,000 members, has rallied around advocacy initiatives to influence national-policy decision makers and shape public discourse. The challenges are significant and more support is needed to effect real change. 
Procurement reform is a major focus. For example, the RAIC, the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies Canada (ACEC) and the Interior Designers of Canada (IDC) are moving ahead on negotiations with the federal government to change the 90/10 percent imbalance in assessing consultants’ RFP responses. Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) plans a trial use of Qualifications-Based-Selection (QBS) for procuring architectural and engineering services and has issued a Request-for-Information seeking feedback on QBS from the industry. This comes after years of advocacy by professional associations, including the RAIC. 
Last fall, the RAIC was asked to appear before the Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources to present research and recommendations for transitioning to a low-carbon economy. With input from experts on the RAIC’s Committee on Regenerative Environments (CORE), key issues and barriers to innovation were identified and recommendations were proposed. They include revisiting current procurement practices that drive to the lowest fee. 
For more about RAIC’s Procurement Reform efforts, click here. You can also read the reflections of Don Ardiel, RAIC’s director of practice support and a member of OAA Council.  
The voice of architects is also present on sustainability concerns. Recently, the RAIC was a signatory on a letter to the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change supporting the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, recommending several key actions needed in the building sector. 
Last year, the RAIC joined with the American Institute of Architects (AIA), as well as numerous international architectural associations, to reaffirm its commitment to Paris Agreement, wherein many countries plan and report their contributions to mitigate global warming. This affirmation was in response to the White House decision to withdraw the United States from the landmark agreement. 
The RAIC’s expert task forces, such as the RAIC Indigenous Task Force (ITF), are working for positive change. Comprising mainly Indigenous architects and designers, the task force works to promote Indigenous design and architecture in Canada and improve living conditions in Indigenous and Northern communities. Last spring, the ITF hosted an International Indigenous Architecture and Design Symposium at the RAIC/OAA 2017 Festival of Architecture in Ottawa. Special guests included designers from New Zealand, representing the Ngā Aho, their national network of Māori design professionals. 
Last year, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the former U.S. embassy would become a space dedicated to Inuit, Métis and First Nations communities, the ITF became involved in the public conversation. It declared the Ottawa building to be a culturally insensitive space for an Indigenous centre and issued a statement questioning the appropriateness of the site. This brought extensive media coverage and raised awareness among government officials heading the development to the centre. 
On February 28, the RAIC responded to the announcement of the 2018 Federal Budget, citing the government’s investments in gender equity, Indigenous communities and research and innovation as positive steps that will benefit Canada’s built environment. Read the Institute’s statement and see what expert members are saying about highlights of budget items related to the built environment and design. 
As the Canadian landscape is built and rebuilt, it becomes increasingly important for members of the architectural community to have a strong voice advocating for a better built environment. While RAIC’s advocacy work has delivered some effective wins, more action is needed to influence policy and promote the profession. Current efforts are the result of a community coming together to impact positive change. The work continues, but only with support from the MRAIC community and its partners, including the OAA  
What are the national issues that are important to you? #JoinRAIC today and add your voice to the conversation.  
Angie Sauvé is the member communications specialist for the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC). She manages new members, the annual renewal cycle and the membership benefits package, along with RAIC’s various social media accounts. Alongside the managers of communications and marketing, Angie assists with media relations and RAIC mass communications such as the monthly Bulletin.