OAQ, OAA, AIBC, AAA issue COVID-19 guides for architects

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Provincial and territorial architecture associations are issuing guidelines to their members on working during the coronavirus crisis.

The OAQ has worked with Kollectif, the Association des architectes en pratique privée du Québec (AAPPQ) and the Fonds des architectes to issue a “survival guide” for the architectural community.  It includes details on measures being taken by the provincial regulator and its insurer, including extending the deadline for the payment of annual licensing fees and insurance premiums until June 1. It also includes links to support programs offered by the federal, provincial, and municipal governments.

Construction sites are presently closed in Quebec, with the exception of sites that are expanding the capacity of the province’s healthcare system. Site visits by architects are also suspended until further notice.

Kollectif is also producing an a series of audio documentaries entitled Comment ça va, toi?  (How are you doing?) that examines how the coronavirus is affecting Quebec’s architecture firms. The first episode interviews emerging firms; the second episode will examine large firms; and the final episode will offer advice from industry veterans about navigating times of crisis.

In Ontario, the OAA is maintaining a FAQ page to keep its members updated. In response to a question about project sites closing down, it writes, “While construction has been deemed an essential service, some project sites may close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Members must be diligent in recording discussions at this time, with decisions only made after obtaining advice of their own lawyers based on the specifics of the situation and contractual obligations. Performing effective risk management, as well as managing expectations of stakeholders, is critical. The OAA will provide more information in this regard next week.”

The Toronto Society of Architects is also maintaining a page of pandemic preparedness resources for firms, including links to resources for remote working and online continuing education links.

The AIBC has a similar FAQ page for its members. In British Columbia, field reviews are considered an essential service, and are still permitted. “At this time, many construction sites are still operating as they are considered “industrial sites”, which means the ban on mass gatherings (50+ people) is not applicable,” says the FAQ. “Health and safety are a top priority – additional precautions have been put in place by the provincial government to help minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission on construction sites.”

The AAA is maintaining a COVID-19 industry update page for its members. In addition to the AAA’s responses, the page includes information from partner organizations, municipal governments, and the Province of Alberta regarding the current situation. The association has also issued a Practice Advisory on the use of portable electronic devices on construction sites, in response to an increase in concerns over site health and safety related to the pandemic.

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