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Building code change set to increase cost of greenhouse structures in Ontario

The 1995 Farm Building Code will soon be superseded by the 2024 Ontario Building Code. Greg Van Geest with Westbrook Greenhouse Systems explains how this updated code contains major changes that will impact greenhouse design significantly, resulting in higher costs.

National Building Code
So what's behind this expected increase? The National Building Code is a set of regulations and standards that govern the construction, alteration, and maintenance of buildings in Canada. The National Building Code was updated in 2020 and released in 2022.

Ontario has modified its Ontario Building Code to comply with the 2020 National Building Code. The recently released 2024 Ontario Building Code will come into effect on January 1, 2025. In addition, Manitoba has so far adopted the 2020 National Building Code (as of January 1, 2024). "The remaining provinces and territories have not announced plans, but will likely need to adopt the updated code before too long", says Greg.

Price increases
The new Building Codes are likely to affect the greenhouse building requirements. Greg says the Westbrook team anticipates that significant upgrades will be required to new greenhouse structures to meet the higher snow & wind loading requirements.

"Our goal is to minimize price increases as much as possible while remaining compliant with the new code," Greg says, adding that additional updates will be provided as they become available.

Notice received from Ontario CodeNews
As 2024 Building Code will come into effect on January 1, 2025, there will likely be an additional transition period allowing permit applicants to continue to use the 2012 Building Code (which allows for the 1995 Farm Code), writes Ontario CodeNews. They say this will be suitable for applications submitted before March 31, 2025, if applicants can demonstrate that their working plans were substantially completed under the 2012 Building Code prior to December 31, 2024. More details about the transition period and training opportunities will be shared in the coming weeks.

"This means that, anyone with substantially completed working plans as of December 31, 2024, will be allowed to continue applying for permits under the existing building code until March 31, 2025", clarifies Greg. Building permits in Ontario are typically valid for 6 months prior to construction, although growers are advised to check with their local municipality to confirm.Westbrook, and other greenhouse manufacturers, are working closely with Flowers Canada Ontario and Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers to try and maintain the 1995 Farm Building Code in Ontario. If you would like to support this effort, please reach out to your local MPP (Member of Provincial Parliament) to make your voice heard.

For more information:
Les Van Egmond
Westbrook Systems
[email protected]