The BC government, along with the Architectural Institute of British Columbia (“AIBC”) and other organizations, have developed the proposed Architectural Professions Act to replace the Architects Act [RSBC 1996 Chapter 17]. Generally, the current Architects Act governs the architectural profession in BC and the legal responsibilities for those who practice architecture, including qualifications, professional conduct standards, liability and certificates of practice. It also establishes the authority and mandate of the AIBC.
The proposed Architectural Professions Act contains a more expansive definition section including a definition for what constitutes the “practice of architecture”. Most significant is the Act’s proposal of new categories of possible members of the institute including residential, building, and interior designers and architectural technologists. The institute is also given the power to create additional categories of new members in the future. A new set of bylaws will set out conditions and limitations on the registration, election and voting rights of new categories of members to address any differences in their qualifications or abilities.
There are numerous other changes for the profession to consider, such as:
- replacement of certificates of practice with licences;
- duties of the Institute, to serve and protect the public interest, are now clearly set out in section 4 of the Act;
- terms for appointed council members have been changed from “at pleasure” to a minimum of one year and maximum of three years;
- terms for elected council member have been revised to three, three-year terms;
- new procedures have been incorporated to ensure administrative fairness before a registration and license may be revoked or cancelled due to fraud or misrepresentation; and
- damages for unauthorized practice and unauthorized use of designations have been increased from $25,000 to $50,000.
Further, two new sections have been added at Part 5 and Part 6 regarding Disciplinary Proceedings and Regulation of Joint Professional Practices. The Disciplinary Proceedings section endeavours to set out the proper conduct of disciplinary processes to add flexibility in the range of disciplinary actions possible. There is also an attempt to provide greater access to information regarding the disciplinary status of members and firms. The Regulation of Joint Professional Practices section introduces elements of the MOA and APEG, including a Joint Practice Board to manage overlap between the practices. The expectation is that reciprocal provision would be incorporated into the Engineers and Geoscientists Act.