Building officials needed now, say Sudbury experts 'Silver tsunami' about to hit critical civil service.

Author:McKinley, Karen

Building officials are critical for communities, and more are needed immediately if the province hopes to maintain health and safety standards.

That is the call being put out by the Ontario Building Officials Association (OBOA) as the profession faces a mass of retirements and a shortage of applications to fill those positions.

"The silver tsunami is going to hit us in about two years, when 50 per cent of building officials in the province become eligible to retire by 2020," said Tina Finelli, an OBOA marketing associate, during a presentation at College Boreal on Jan. 30.

"Building officials are critical. They do everything from inspecting buildings for safety and code compliance, draw up and approve budgets, and help shape policies for health and environment standards in construction."

Fellow marketing associate Sherri Gallowitz related some statistics.

The province contains more than 444 municipalities, and all of them need building officials.

In 2017, construction spending totalled $38.5 billion in Ontario, with 100,000 housing starts for that year.

No construction happens without building officials, Gallowitz said.

Building officials are vital to public safety, overseeing planning, budgeting, construction, and bylaw enforcement for residential, commercial, and institutional buildings. They can work in rural, urban and suburban settings.

The wide variety of jobs means people can often find a job near their current home, Gallowitz said.

To drive the point home about the benefits of building officials, several professionals joined in a panel discussion on their experiences.

They included Guido Mazza, chief building official for the City of Greater Sudbury; Victoria LaChapelle, plans examiner for the City of Sudbury; Brock Sanftenberg, building inspector for the City of Sudbury; Francois Couture, co-ordinator of plans examinations and bylaw enforcement officer for the City of Sault Ste. Marie; Dennis Castellan, architect, principal partner at 3rdLine Studio, and associate professor at Laurentian University's McEwen School of Architecture; and Sherri Budgell, Sudbury's manager of plans examination.

All of them agreed it was a rewarding career, with competitive pay and pretty much a guaranteed job.

"I am in a career where I know I will retire, with a pension, and not have to worry about job loss," Couture said.

"We are in high demand and always will be."

Demand is so high that institutions, municipalities and unions are collaborating to...

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