President’s Message – February 12, 2015
February 17, 2015
Happy belated New Year to all AIBC members, honorary members and associates!
I’m pleased to start the New Year with this opportunity to report back to you on the results of Engagement 2.0, the second phase of AIBC’s internal stakeholder engagement. The purpose of this initiative was two-fold: to implement a credible process to build stakeholder trust, and; to gather input that would help council shape changes that are coming to the AIBC.
I believe we have achieved these goals on both fronts.
First off, thank you again to all those who participated in person and online. Engagement 2.0 was held over a 12-week period between September and December 2014. During this time, 29 events were held in multiple locations and with multiple ways to participate. There were 717 participants (with some participants attending each of the three stages) and more than 1,100 comment submissions.
Based on findings from the open houses you attended in April 2014, Engagement 2.0 was presented in three topic-specific and distinct stages: About the AIBC; Act Review and Change; Public Outreach and Advocacy. Each stage was accompanied by information handouts, presentations and online comment cards. The handouts and presentations remain available on the AIBC website.
Engagement 2.0 created an opportunity for healthy dialogue and discussion. Equally important, it allowed council to canvass the appetite of members and associates on a number of key issues. With this invaluable input in hand, I’m pleased to announce items your council is currently working on in the areas of Public Outreach, Act Review and Change, and “the AIBC” (specifically but not limited to the Intern Architect Program).
Public Outreach Strategy
The area of most interest during Engagement 2.0 was public outreach so I will begin with this topic.
There was strong support for the AIBC to implement activities and programs that increase public understanding of architecture, the role of the architect and the value they and the profession offer society. To this end, a council committee will be struck to design a Public Outreach Strategy that complements and expands on existing AIBC programming. This committee will explore items raised during the engagement exercise and define appropriate types of outreach to municipalities, schools and other public audiences.
So we are clear and to dispel any confusion regarding the use of the term “public outreach”, we are defining it as raising public awareness of the profession of architecture and the value architects contribute to the built environment.
We believe the term “public outreach” better reflects what the AIBC can do in this area. “Advocacy”, “public education” and “public awareness” seem to cause unnecessary confusion as a result of the broad scope and personal interpretation of the terms.
Relationship with the RAIC
Another common theme in this stage was the relationship and interaction with the RAIC. Several very interesting ideas were put forward.
AIBC CEO Mark Vernon recently met with the new RAIC president, Samuel Oboh, and their new executive director, Ian Chodikoff, to discuss a defined working relationship and ways to align on key projects.
Stay tuned as these discussions lead to future initiatives, programs and events.
Act Review & Change
There was overall support for the AIBC to continue to pursue housekeeping changes to the Architects Act.
Of the specific items outlined in the Engagement 2.0 presentation on Act Review and Change, five had been submitted to government in February and June 2014. As a refresher, the five items currently before government are:
- Intern Architect Program (IAP) experience requirements to be consistent with national agreements.
- Broadly Experienced Foreign Architects (BEFA) experience requirements to be consistent with national agreements.
- Ability to set up limited liability partnerships (LLP).
- Non-compliance to the Continuing Education System (CES) to become an administrative matter.
- Addition of a Duties and Objects section, consistent with other modern self-regulating professions, to clearly define the institute’s core purpose.
Briefing notes on these five submissions are found on the AIBC website. Read briefing notes on IAP and BEFA experience requirements. Read briefing notes on duties and objects, LLP, CES.
In addition, many comments spoke to “getting on with it”. In keeping with this momentum, the Act Review Committee was tasked to provide council at their January 27 meeting with a strategy for next steps including an additional list of housekeeping items. Council approved the motion to pursue this strategy, including the ongoing and ever important notification of members.
Ministry of Advanced Education
As many of you know, the Architects Act falls under the portfolio of the Ministry of Advanced Education. It is primarily with this ministry that we liaise on a regular basis, though there are occasions when we are called to participate with other government departments.
Earlier this year, I sent a letter to Minister of Advanced Education Andrew Wilkinson congratulating him on his recent appointment, introducing our new CEO Mark Vernon and requesting a meeting, at his earliest convenience. The purpose of the meeting will be to provide him an overview of the AIBC and profession and, more importantly, gauge his willingness to assist with changes to the Act.
Mark and I look forward to discussing with him and his ministerial team how the AIBC can contribute to serve the public’s interest on behalf of the architectural profession.
Intern Architect Program
A third theme –Stage 1 of Engagement 2.0 – was in regards to “the AIBC”. In this stage, one of the key issues explored was the Intern Architect Program. Many of the issues brought forward were in parallel with the Diverse Membership Working Group’s final report, recently submitted to council and based on findings from their June-July 2014 survey. Council approved the recommendations outlined in the Diverse Membership Survey Final Report. They cover operational items as well as initiatives which call for continued participation of the DMG and council. Highlights include:
A number of them were operational items already underway and/or noted in the strategic plan such as, annual analysis of intern architect and registration stats; regularly scheduled surveys to measure program efficacy; website audits to ensure information accuracy; and strengthening post-secondary stakeholder relationships.
Intern Friendly Initiative & Best Practices Guiding Principles
The DMG is keen to launch an “Intern Friendly” initiative, a grassroots, firm-based, AIBC-supported program whose goal is to formalize “best practices” that promote and encourage intern architects, the value of registration and the road to licensure. Cultivating a culture of mentorship, facilitating access to Construction Administration (CA) hours and a number of other initiatives will be discussed.
Through crafting and implementing a set of “best practices” and including a tracking mechanism, firms can demonstrate their commitment to encourage the professional development of the next generation of architects. In tandem, intern architects play a key role in contributing to the healthy growth of the architectural profession.
I invite all firms, large and small, to participate in this vital endeavor by contacting members of the DMG committee. Together we can build a thriving profession.
Associates Task Force
Though not specifically presented during Engagement 2.0, the Associate Task Force was a point of conversation and I would be remiss not to include an update on this long-standing and finally resolved issue.
The findings from the ATF-lead Retired Architect Survey, conducted November-December 2014, demonstrated resounding support for the “Retired Architect AIBC” designation to remain a regulated associate class. With that settled, a motion was approved at this year’s January 27 council meeting to establish notification language for all three associate classes: Retired Architect AIBC; Intern Architect AIBC; Architectural Technologist AIBC.
Council is scheduled to review and vote on the notification requirements at an upcoming council meeting. Council will take into consideration all member feedback provided during the 30-day feedback period. An online form has been set up for your comments.
In completing this, its final task, council thanks the members of the Associate Task Force for their hard work and dedication and announces that the Associates Task Force is now closed.
As for operational items such as improving website navigation for easier access to information, developing opportunities for distance learning, and offering business courses geared for architects, these and many other recommendations are currently being reviewed.
By all measures, the AIBC Engagement 2.0 initiative was a tremendous success. Participation levels demonstrated a dramatic increase and there was healthy and honest dialogue about a number of key issues. AIBC Council and staff have responded by taking steps on a number of actionable items, as outlined above.
Please stay tuned as we continue to roll-out programs and initiatives that address your concerns and support the institute’s strategic plan. You will be hearing from the institute through periodic blasts like this one, but also via eNews, AIBC’s weekly e-newsletter.
In addition, there is a calendar of events planned where we can maintain open lines of communication:
- Information sessions on the three bylaw amendments are scheduled in February, followed by an e-vote in the spring (the first ever at the AIBC) on these same bylaw amendments.
- Meet and greet sessions with the new CEO Mark Vernon will be announced shortly.
- Be sure to mark your calendars for this year’s annual meeting to be held on May 2, 2015 at Simon Fraser University (downtown Vancouver campus) where we look forward to circling back with you on council and operational initiatives.
Scott Kemp Architect AIBC
AIBC Council President