Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, along with eight other member states of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), is implementing a four year Sustainable Land Management (SLM) Project with the aim of improving the region's natural resource base resilience to the impacts of climate change.
Against this back drop, the Department of Physical Planning held a stakeholder consultation on Thursday, March 16, on the development of best practices recommendations for implementing the revised OECS Building Codes 2015. The OECS Building Code was developed from a combination of other building codes from Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, which was formulated mainly for the OECS, where it was then localized for individual countries within the OECS.
Alison King, Consultant at the OECS Commission, explained the aim of the project.
"The idea is to tailor the administrative section of the building codes to each country. The building code, including the technical aspects, was reviewed in 2015 for four countries and there is an assumption that all of the countries will adopt that code, in particular, the technical provisions," said the consultant. "But it was felt that because national circumstances differ across the nine countries that have been looked at, that the administrative section should be tailored to their needs"
She stated that her task is to basically look at building code models regionally and globally and then present them to the relevant countries in order to see what best practice in different jurisdictions is. Ms. King said once people get a feel of what those practices are then they can begin to think about what they want to see in their respective countries, as well as what can work in the context of the administrative and legal systems that are in place.
Aldrin Thomas, Building Inspector in the Department of Physical Planning and focal point for the project, said that the project will have major impact on St. Kitts and Nevis.
"It would benefit St. Kitts and Nevis significantly due to the fact that there are some difficulties that we are presently facing and so with this revision of the administrative section which it would bring to light, the issues that we are having as it relates to activities in construction and otherwise and gives us the opportunity to mitigate and put in place measures to reduce or to improve on these deficiencies," said the building inspector. "And so, on a large scale the nation would benefit from a practitioners point of view and from a home owners point of view."
Terrance DeCosta, Senior Development Controller Officer in the Department of Physical Planning, said that it is important to revise the building code for a number of reasons. One of the reasons has to do with the effects of global warming.
"As we know, changes do take place and one such change is climate change, and with climate change we experience and can experience many hazards," he said. "Consequently, from time to time we have to revise our building codes to meet or mitigate and in some instances prevent," said Mr. DeCosta.
The project, which is also and an (iLand Resilience) Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) Project, is funded by the European Union and GCCA. Its consultancy is expected to run for fifteen months. After such time, a draft legislation would be completed and submitted to the member states. Within the fifteen months, however, there would be one or two more country visits to finalize recommendations and decisions made from the consultations.