Responding to Outstanding Elements of a Member’s Resolution on Digital Seals

Actions to Address Enforcement and Design Requirements

In response to a motion passed by members at the OAA’s 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM), Council removed the requirement for licensed members to have a digital seal issued through Notarius. A second part of that motion focused on enforcement with building officials. Earlier this year, OAA Council directed Executive Director Kristi Doyle and Registrar Christie Mills to explore how to best do this.

Actions underway include education resources for building officials, a renewed strategic alliance through Engineers, Architects, Building Officials (EABO), enforcement postings on the OAA Website, and communicating with Chief Planners and Chief Building Officials regarding professional design requirements.

Education piece for building officials

For chief building officials, the Registrar has been working with other OAA staff to finalize a “one-pager” document that articulates the professional design and general review requirements as set out in the Architects Act. This need was discussed last year by OAA VP Regulatory Paul Hastings and Andy Thomson, who was then VP Strategic, as well as by the OAA’s Subcommittee on Building Codes & Regulations (SCOBCAR).

The new document does not replace the Joint OAA/PEO Bulletin setting out the requirements for professional design. Instead, it complements that piece and focuses strictly on the information relative to the practice of architecture. Further, the new document integrates the scopes of practice for an Architect along with a Licenced Technologist OAA. It explains what the OAA enforces and helps building officials assess if submitted applications/drawings may be the subject of illegal practice, allowing them to be better equipped to follow through with their responsibility under the Building Code Act to contact the OAA or deny the permit submission.

Strategic Alliance through Engineers, Architects, Building Officials

The recent reset of EABO has increased opportunity for communication between the OAA and building officials, specifically around professional design requirements. The renewed alliance provides a direct avenue to not only facilitate the dissemination of information and education of building officials, but also to provide backing of OAA efforts by the organizations representing the building officials’ community.

At its meeting in February, EABO agreed one of its priorities this year would be issues with professional seals (i.e. forgery and authentication) and, tangentially, to identify situations of illegal practice by other designers and enforcement of professional design and general review requirements under the Architects Act and Professional Engineers Act.

Enforcement Postings on OAA Website

With the launch of the new OAA Website, the Association added specific and detailed information regarding its enforcement efforts and authority as set out in the Architects Act, as well as aggregate statistics. It serves as an additional resource and education tool for building officials, as well as the public and OAA membership.

The Registrar also shares reporting on enforcement statistics on a quarterly basis in the OAA News e-newsletter.

Letters to Chief Planners and Chief Building Officials

A number of years ago, the OAA President wrote to all chief building officials and chief planners regarding the Act’s requirements for engaging an architect at the outset of the site plan process when the building requires regulated professional design services. Plans are now underway to send a similar letter, updated accordingly to include reference to Licensed Technologists OAA.

Virtual Roundtable with Building Officials

The OAA President and the Executive Director, or other Association staff, have spoken directly to building officials numerous times over the last few years. This has been in the context of the annual meetings of the representative organizations, invitations to speak for local Ontario Building Officials Association (OBOA) chapters, or participation in meetings held by building officials though their representatives organizations or municipalities.

Given the use of Zoom and the further acceptance of virtual meetings, the OAA is planning an education session targeted directly at building officials, arranged and facilitated through EABO or specifically offered by the OBOA to its members as an education session. The Association would provide the content, which would be centred on the new one-page document, OAA Website information, and offerings of Practice Advisory Services (PAS) and the Office of the Registrar.