Canadian Underwriter

Manitoba to streamline farm building code requirements

January 25, 2017   by Canadian Underwriter

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The government of Manitoba announced on Wednesday that it is removing “unnecessary regulatory requirements” on the construction of farm buildings.

Old Wooden Grain Elevator Against Dramatic SkyManitoba Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler suggested in a statement that the removal of the regulations will support the long-term, sustainable growth of the province’s agricultural sector.

“Our government is listening to Manitoba’s farm families and other stakeholders, who have clearly shown how the current code for farm buildings is impractical and costly,” Eichler said in the statement. “Instead, we will be moving forward with common-sense amendments to the Manitoba Building Code that more closely align with other western Canadian jurisdictions to ensure appropriate protective measures are in place that also reflect the unique issues related to farm buildings and the farming industry.”

Eichler said that the current Manitoba Farm Building Code will be repealed and an amendment will be made to the Manitoba Building Code to add specific provisions for farm buildings. The minister noted this approach will reduce the red tape burden on those planning to build new farm buildings, while still ensuring appropriate rules will be in place related to occupant safety and fire prevention.

Among the changes that will apply to farm buildings:

  • establishing a ‘low-human occupancy’ building classification for most types of farm buildings, which will recognize lower risks by reducing additional regulatory requirements for items like full fire alarm systems;
  • focusing on ways to prevent fires from spreading to neighbouring buildings, while still allowing these low-human occupancy buildings to be grouped together to meet operational needs;
  • applying only structural requirements for unenclosed farm buildings used for hay storage or livestock shelters;
  • removing requirements for fire-rated separations in high-humidity environments where the building materials are unsuitable, or in areas where animals are likely to cause damage to them;
  • providing more options to meet entrance and exit requirements;
  • allowing flexibility in the direction of door swing to meet operational needs;
  • allowing flexibility in requirements related to covering foamed plastic insulation in high-humidity vegetable storage facilities such as potato storage sheds; and
  • adjusting emergency lighting requirements to be responsive to the needs of poultry and egg producers.

Dan Mazier, president of the Keystone Agricultural Producers, said in the statement that the organization “extremely pleased with this announcement because it will result in a renewal of the livestock industry, allowing producers to build new barns and modernize existing ones. We will now become more competitive with producers in other jurisdictions, where building costs for barns are lower because they don’t have this excess regulation.  We look forward to working with the province, not only to reduce costs, but also to ensure the safety of farmers, employees and animals.”

As a result of this change, Eichler said, construction requirements for all buildings will be part of a single regulation. The approach will also eliminate the need for government to update multiple regulations when new versions of the National Building Code are adopted. The building code requirements will apply to all farm buildings over 600 square metres.

The Manitoba farm building code would be repealed once the new provisions for farm buildings come into effect, Eichler added. Building codes and other related standards are overseen by Manitoba’s Office of the Fire Commissioner.

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