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Architecture sector unites to plan national policy

Don Wall
Architecture sector unites to plan national policy

A pan-Canadian effort has been launched by the architectural sector to create a new national architecture policy that would promote better quality in the built environment, identify new aspirational goals and ensure the profession is more relevant to Canadians.

Darryl Condon, a managing principal with the Vancouver firm HCMA Architecture + Design and a past-president of the Architectural Institute of British Columbia, said the proponents of the new policy aim to consult with the public and members of the profession in the early part of 2019, develop a policy framework through 2020 and 2021 and arrive at a final set of policies that could be endorsed by the profession and, it’s hoped, governments as well within three years.

“The profession and the way the built environment has been constructed have changed a lot over the last few years and part of our concern is that we need to be helping shape the conversation in a way that meets the needs society has for us going forward,” Condon said.

“The public is well served by building codes and safety aspects of the profession but what’s lacking is a more aspirational policy that states not only what are the minimum standards that the public should expect but also what other aspects of the quality of the built environment that all Canadian citizens have a right to.”

The initiative has the backing of the 11 regulators represented by the Canadian Architectural Licensing Authorities, of architectural schools across the country and of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

Informal conversations started at a conference on architectural school curriculum held in Saint-Sauveur, Que. in 2014 and a more formal organizational structure began to develop by 2016, Condon said.

He is serving as the chair of what is being referred to now as the Future of the Profession Committee.

Canadians, with the exception of Quebec, have been slow off the mark contemplating the creation of a national policy, given there are some two dozen nations elsewhere around the world already well into deliberations. They are finding it a way to grow the profession, said Condon.

“It includes a wide range of strategies and policies aimed at improving the quality of the built environment and how to achieve that and in many cases to allow the industry in those countries to be more competitive as well,” he said.


There is no clear responsibility for policies around the built environment

— Darryl Condon

HCMA Architecture + Design


“A good example is Denmark. They are exporters of architectural thinking, and as part of that they have created strong policy that supports that thinking and helps to export that globally.”

In Canada, only the Ordre des architectes du Quebec has been active creating a framework for broader architectural policy, supported by the provincial government, said Condon. He pointed also to the development of the recent Canadian creative policy enabled by the federal government as laudable.

“One of the things that needs fixing, look at any level of government, there is no clear responsibility for policies around the built environment,” said Condon.

“Start with the federal government, what ministry is responsible and accountable for this? There isn’t one, right?

“As a result, things get missed, so one of our aims is that there is one ministry that has a mandate for all of this and that ensures greater consistency and co-ordination amongst other initiatives.”

Components of the policy would include recommendations to ensure it meets environmental and social needs, to ensure it is culturally responsive and that speak “specifically to Canadian values and the future we all aspire to as Canadians,” Condon said.

Consultations will include the impact of architecture on the scale of the individual, on communities and on the country as a whole, will also look at emerging issues that architects can help tackle, and will ultimately combine the proposals and determine how the profession needs to shape itself moving forward, he added.

“Those of us that are involved in this initiative believe that the skill set of the architect is unique and what we do every day is bring together and reconcile between so many different variables, whether it is safety or structural or thermal, while being concerned with more aspiration aspects as well,” said Condon.

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