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LETTER: City violates BC Plumbing Code

Dear Editor,

This is something that the residents of Grand Forks really should know: By using “certified water meter installers” instead of certified plumbers to install water meters, the former mayor and council of Grand Forks have violated the BC Plumbing Code. The code is very specific:

“1.2.3.1. Personnel Performing Plumbing Work

1) Personnel performing the installation, extension, alteration, renewal or repair of a plumbing system shall

a) possess a Canadian tradesman’s qualification certification as a plumber,

b) be an indentured apprentice supervised by a journeyman who meets the criteria set out in Clause (a), or

c) be the registered owner and occupant or intended occupant of the single family dwelling in which the plumbing work will occur.”

These building codes are in place to ensure our homes are up to standards of safety, and insurance companies insist on code compliance. Apparently the city’s insurance will cover any issue that may arise from a faulty in-home water meter installation, but will their insurer really cover work that didn’t comply with building codes?

Professionals who earn their degrees, tradespeople who earn their certificates, white collar or blue, might be appalled at this breach of standards. It takes years of hard work and dedication to become a doctor, engineer, teacher, plumber, electrician, any professional. The standards that are set as to who can do the work in these professional categories are there for a reason, not to be arbitrarily applied by a local city council.

Sure, anyone with the basic skills could have installed these meters, but it’s the principle of the thing, the way it was done. Does this mean we don’t have to adhere to the BC Building Codes in Grand Forks? And, the irony of the situation is that the city itself, to my understanding, is responsible for enforcing the building codes. Double standard ?

To be clear, this code violation has nothing to do with city staff…   they got their marching orders from former mayor and council, and had to comply.

One additional point in the plumbing code:

“1.2.1.2. Responsibility of Owner

1)    Unless otherwise specified in this Code, the owner of a building shall be the person responsible for carrying out the provisions of this Code in relation to plumbing systems for that building.”

So, in sort of a tricky twist, council had violated the plumbing code, but per the code the homeowner is responsible for the violation.

This is not an argument against water meters; already stated my opinion on that. This is about the way it was done. The water meter program in Grand Forks was ill planned and just plain wrong on so many levels. The meters should never have been installed inside our homes to begin with, violating our privacy and potentially harming our health.  Violating the plumbing code just added insult to injury.

Jack Koochin

Grand Forks, BC