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Last year was a busy one for OAA Policy & Government Relations initiatives, with an extensive number of policy meetings, consultation, and proposals to various levels of government.
In some respects, this is the culmination of a comprehensive monitoring program aimed at proactively identifying opportunities and risks to the profession. Perhaps more significantly, it is also a sign the OAA’s efforts as a responsible professional regulator are being well-received, as governments at various levels are proactively seeking the Association’s input before setting policies, bylaws, regulations, and legislation.
The OAA looks to continue to build on this reputation throughout 2020 as it begins important discussions on topics such as the government’s proposed transformation and modernization of the delivery of Ontario’s Building Code Services.
As part of the Association's ongoing public policy commitment to deliver independent research, the OAA delivered a new report in February 2019, “Housing Affordability in Growing Urban Areas.” Well-received by municipal governments and policy-makers, it continues to be prominently discussed even at the end of the year. Via its membership in the Construction Design Alliance of Ontario (CDAO), the OAA is also engaged in a study on “Quality of Documents” to determine if there is a correlation between RFIs and change orders and a failure to invest in the planning and development of project documents.
The OAA proactively engaged with decision makers, sending dozens of letters and responding to nearly a dozen consultations on tourism, housing affordability, environment, site plan approval and the Ontario Building Code (all of which can be viewed in the GR Portal). To complement these submissions, the OAA met with officials at all levels of government throughout the year to provide architectural recommendations on policy, legislation, and regulations.
While all these opportunities allowed architects to contribute to the public policy discussion, a few had the potential to significantly impact or infringe upon the practice of architecture. The first such file was Bill 70, Registered Professional Planners Act, which proposed to expand the scope of Registered Professional Planners. Following a series of unsuccessful attempts to resolve concerns with the Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI), Bill 70 now appears poised to die on the Order Paper. (In this scenario, the government does not advance the bill through the necessary steps of votes in the house and the typical referral to a standing committee for consultation and closer review. The bill simply sits idle and is eventually sunset when parliament is dissolved or prorogued, unless it is re-introduced as new legislation—at which point the process must begin all over again.)
Another file that will continue to be high priority in 2020 is the government's proposed transformation and modernization of the delivery of Ontario's Building Code services. On a brighter note, the federal government's quality-based selection (QBS) pilot continued through 2019, with hope of another major QBS announcement coming in early 2020.
To secure important input from the membership, the OAA held three Policy and Advocacy Coordination Team (PACT) Roundtables on the topics of Project Management Service Provision, Design (and Site Plan Approval), and Designing for Resiliency. Each were well-attended and valuable in shaping not only the OAA's understanding of issues, but also its outward public policy recommendations.
The year was capped off with a successful World Architecture Day celebration at Queen’s Park on December 10 (the event had to be rescheduled as parliament was not sitting), where Members of Provincial Parliament from all political stripes as well as government staff were in attendance. The cornerstone of the event is a curated exhibit of eight Queen’s Park (QP) Picks—a selection of buildings nominated annually by MPPs. At the celebration, the OAA had the opportunity to chat with MPPs about the importance of architecture across Ontario, and the important roles that architects can play in promoting protection of the public. While MPPs are barraged by receptions and lobby events, the unique format of the OAA’s event continues to be extremely popular at Queen's Park.The OAA looks forward to starting 2020 off strong with key MPP meetings to continue discussions about reforming the site plan approval process, as well as the OAA’s important opposition to the proposed changes to the delivery of Ontario’s Building Code services.